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RI Foundation Grants $250K for Narcan Kits

[CREDIT: RI Foundation] The Rhode Island Foundation is located at One Union Station in downtown Providence.

[CREDIT: RI Foundation] The Rhode Island Foundation is located at One Union Station in downtown Providence.
[CREDIT: RI Foundation] The Rhode Island Foundation is located at One Union Station in downtown Providence. The foundation has awarded URI a $250K grant for Narcan kits in local communities.
PROVIDENCE —  The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded a $250,000 grant to the University of Rhode Island’s Community First Responder Program (CFRP) for thousands of Narcan opioid overdose prevention kits for community-based recovery organizations, including Anchor Recovery in Warwick.

The Foundation’s grant to URI’s College of Pharmacy will fund purchase of approximately 3,000 Narcan kits for distribution to community-based organizations, following news of a record 384 Rhode Islanders died of a drug overdose last year, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) statistics.

The Providence Center (TPC) opened Anchor Recovery in December of 2010 in Pawtucket. At the time, statistics ranked Rhode Island as the state with the highest rate of substance use related problems in the country, with a significant gap in treatment. Anchor opened its Warwick location, 890 Centerville Road, in 2013.

The RI Foundation grant comes as naloxone (also known as Narcan) supplies are seriously depleted, the foundation reports. Drug overdose deaths increased 25 percent last year compared to 2019, according to RIDOH, and preliminary data indicate that 2021 could be worse. The funding will provide about a two-month supply of the lifesaving emergency antidote.

“Narcan kits are a simple solution to a deadly problem. While our funding will save lives, it’s just a large, yet critically needed, ‘band-aid’ until a sustainable funding source is put in place,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “The current shortage is a clear call for others to join with us and our partners to ensure Rhode Island has the resources to address this deadly health crisis as well as to confront the underlying causes of substance use disorder.”

“The nature of our previous funding restricted our naloxone distribution efforts to rural areas of Rhode Island. This grant will enable us to go wherever there is a need. When it comes to the drug overdose and addiction crisis, there are no borders,” said CFRP Program Director Anita Jacobson, PharmD.

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Narcan kits are routinely carried by law enforcement and emergency medical personnel as well as mobile outreach workers from community-based recovery and harm reduction organizations. These organizations use weekly data from RIDOH to deploy their mobile outreach teams to overdose hotspots throughout Rhode Island and connect those at risk to harm reduction supplies, basic needs, treatment and recovery services as needed. The Narcan kits come with two doses of naloxone nasal spray that can be dispensed directly into the nostrils of someone who is overdosing.

According to RIDOH, three out of every four overdose deaths in 2020 involved fentanyl, which is often found in counterfeit pills being illicitly sold as oxycodone, Adderall or benzodiazepines. These counterfeit pills are even more lethal when crushed and snorted. Fentanyl can also be present in powders such as heroin, cocaine and other drugs.

The funding for the Foundation’s grant comes in part from its Behavioral Health Fund, which was created with funding from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island.

Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of WarwickPost.com. Contact him at editor@warwickpost.com with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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