Public naloxone lockboxes designed to reduce overdose deaths

Idea is to empower bystanders to administer life-saving drug

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Some Massachusetts cities and towns are considering dispensers of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone (commonly referred to by the brand name Narcan) on the streets to combat the opioid crisis.

The city of Cambridge has already tested the idea. Lockbox dispensers filled with naloxone expand access to the lifesaving drug by putting it in the hands of bystanders.

You can already get naloxone without a prescription from many pharmacies, and most local police, fire departments, and paramedics carry it.

Cambridge had 26 opioid-related deaths in 2016. Locally, Springfield had 41 and West Springfield tallied nine. Officials from both communities said that they would talk about the idea.

“I support the use and availability of Narcan as widely as it possibly can be, so this is a program that sounds like it has some merit, at least for discussion,” Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said.

“It would be something that I would bring to our Care Coalition, which is really our opioid task force, for discussion,” West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt said.

The way that the program works in Cambridge is that once a person calls 911, the dispatcher gives them directions to the nearest lockbox, and a four-digit code to open it. They then direct the bystander on how to administer the nasal spray drug.