Cardinal Health has unveiled a big push to combat the opioid epidemic in the four Appalachian states that have been hit hardest by it. The Opioid Action plan is a pilot that officials at the Dublin, Ohio-based company said would bring front-line tools to first responders in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, while increasing its investment in education.
“Opioid addiction and abuse has harmed too many people in our home state of Ohio, across Appalachia and around the country,” Cardinal Health chairman and CEO George Barrett said. “The men and woman of Cardinal Health are committed to being a part of the solution and we believe our Opioid Action Program will have a meaningful and positive impact.”
The program will see Cardinal Health purchasing roughly 80,000 doses of overdose reversal drug Narcan Nasal Spray or first responders and law enforcement officers. The company said it would also increase support for drug take-back and education programs, building on similar events held in 13 communities in the four states through the Cardinal Health Foundation’s partnership with the Ohio State University College of Pharmacy. The two organizations teamed up to create Generation Rx, an educational program about the dangers of prescription drug misuse.
“We have worked with the Cardinal Health Foundation to develop and expand Generation Rx and its educational materials and programming for nearly ten years,” Ohio State University College of Pharmacy professor Ken Hale said. “I am proud of the work we have done together to reach and educate people of all ages about the hazards of prescription drug misuse. The Opioid Action Program is a major expansion of the existing Generation Rx program and will enable our educational materials to reach even more people in communities that are fighting the opioid epidemic."
As part of the effort, Cardinal Health said it would invest $3 million in expanding grants for youth prevention efforts, as well as reduction and awareness efforts for prescribers and community responses. It will be partnering with the Alpert Medical School at Brown University to share medical school curricula addressing opioid misuse and treatment as part of a collaboration with medical schools nationwide.
“This program is intended to build on the important work we have done over the years to bring more resources to communities that need them, with a focus on known solutions that will help families and communities combat this epidemic,” Barrett said. “We look forward to partnering with other companies and organizations to leverage our commitment to help solve this complex public health crisis.”
Cardinal Health said it would evaluate the success and impact of the pilot and look to expand it into more states and communities.