BOSTON (WWLP) — The State Senate voted on Tuesday evening to approve a budget amendment proposed by Senator Eric P. Lesser to add funds to the state’s bulk purchase program for Naloxone, an opioid overdose-reversal drug commonly referred to by its brand name, Narcan.
The program currently allows cities and towns to pool their resources to buy doses of the overdose-reversal drug Narcan in bulk, reducing the price.
Since its creation in 2015, the program’s trust fund has nearly run out. The amendment adds $500,000 to the fund to keep doses of Narcan in the hands of first responders and nonprofit organizations working to combat substance abuse.
The funds will come from a new fund established in the Senate version of the budget, the Substance Use Disorder Prevention and Treatment Fund, which will be paid for by a new tax on opioid manufacturers as a way to hold them accountable for causing the opioid epidemic.
The Naloxone Bulk Purchase Program was created in 2015 through an amendment to the FY16 budget introduced by Senator Lesser. The program is administered by the Office of the Attorney General.
In 2017, 143 municipalities, including police and fire departments, 10 school districts, and two county sheriff’s departments were using the fund to purchase Narcan doses at reduced rates.
A recent Massachusetts Department of Public Health report found a one-percent decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths in 2018 across the state, almost all of them involved fentanyl. But Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties all saw significant increases in drug deaths last year.
The presence of fentanyl continues to be a leading factor in the cause of death from opioid overdose.