Expansion comes as new legislation requiring insurance coverage of naloxone takes
As part of a coordinated, statewide effort to address Rhode Island’s drug overdose
crisis, the North Providence and East Providence Police Departments are working to
get naloxone to other municipal police departments whose officers are currently not
equipped with the overdose rescue medication.
“Naloxone is an essential tool in our work to prevent overdoses and save lives, but
it can only work if it is in the hands of first responders and others whose swift
action can mean the difference between life and death,” said Governor Gina Raimondo.
“I want to thank the North Providence and East Providence Police Departments for
exemplifying the kind of collaboration we need to tackle the overdose epidemic in
Expanding access to naloxone is the focus of the rescue strategy of the action plan
developed by Governor Raimondo’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force.
The other three focus areas of the plan are prevention, treatment, and recovery. The
Task Force’s goal is to reduce overdose deaths by one-third within three years.
In early January the North Providence and East Providence Police Departments first
offered to purchase naloxone for the police departments in 10 cities and towns that
were not equipping their officers with naloxone. Seven police departments (Johnston,
Lincoln, Narragansett, East Greenwich, New Shoreham, Pawtucket, and Woonsocket),
along with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM)’s Division
of Enforcement, have since accepted the offer.
Funding from North Providence and East Providence for naloxone is coming from
settlement money awarded to the cities by Google after a 2011 investigation into its
advertising practices. This money has helped the Rhode Island State Police acquire
naloxone since 2014.
“We are thrilled to be able to step up to the plate and help save lives in cities
and towns whose police departments do not have naloxone,” said North Providence
Mayor Charles Lombardi. “We will take advantage of any opportunity to help
throughout the state.”
“The overdose issue is affecting all of Rhode Island,” said Colonel Christopher
Parella, Chief of the East Providence Police Department. “We have to come together
as a state, which means pooling resources and expertise, whenever possible, to save
every life that we can. We are proud that East Providence will be able to help other
police departments make sure that their officers are carrying naloxone.”
Like many states across the country, Rhode Island is experiencing a spike in
fentanyl-related overdose deaths. Naloxone can reverse a fentanyl overdose. However,
more than three doses are often needed.
Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health
(RIDOH) and Rebecca Boss, Acting Director of the Rhode Island Department of
Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH) reached out
to the chiefs of the 10 police departments without naloxone and urged them to act on
the offer from North Providence and East Providence. Dr. Alexander-Scott and
Director Boss are the co-chairs of Governor Raimondo’s Overdose Prevention and
Intervention Task Force.
In addition, RIDOH and BHDDH have placed naloxone in the community through targeted
street outreach by peer recovery coaches. RIDOH and BHDDH have also coordinated with
the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (DOC) to ensure that its staff are
equipped with naloxone and that inmates receive naloxone upon release.
The offer from the North Providence and East Providence Police Departments comes as
health insurers in Rhode Island are now required to cover at least one form of
generic naloxone for both patients and third parties (such as individuals who are
concerned that a family member or friend is at risk of an overdose). This
requirement is the result of legislation that passed in 2016. The legislation was
sponsored by Senator Joshua Miller and Representative David Bennett.
At least 307 people died of drug overdose deaths in Rhode Island in 2016. Drug
overdoses claimed 290 lives in Rhode Island in 2015.