A University of Kentucky pharmacist met with Hope Center employees on Thursday to teach them how to administer naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effects of an opiate overdose.
Dr. Daniel Wermeling’s visit was part of a public education program started six months ago to support organizations that help people with addiction and who are homeless.
The program is a response to an increase in overdoses this year. This past month alone, more than 250 people in Kentucky, Cincinnati and Huntington, W.Va., have died from heroin and fentanyl, a far more potent painkiller, the Washington Post reported.
“The addition of fentanyl into this totally changes the game,” Wermeling said
Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, was used by the Lexington Fire Department an average of 107 times per month in 2015; this year, that number is 149.
As part of the training session, the 14 people in attendance could receive two free doses of naloxone after signing a form.
Wermeling developed the naloxone nasal spray. He has worked as a pharmacist for 33 years.
One of the people in attendance Thursday was Joseph Weger, who works in the Hope Center’s detox unit. Weger said he believes naloxone can help keep addicts alive.
“This is exactly what the community needs,” Weger said.
Wermeling has asked for organizations and community leaders to email him at DPwermeling@gmail.com if they would like him to teach them about naloxone.
Fernando Alfonso III: 859-231-1324, @fernalfonso