Cambridge to consider storing anti-overdose drug Narcan in public boxes

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Officials in Cambridge are considering an unprecedented proposal to create publicly accessible boxes containing Narcan, the medication used to counteract opioid overdoses.

City officials say a passer-by who found someone suffering from an overdose could administer the drug before medics arrive.

Dr. Scott Goldberg, the director of Emergency Medical Services at Brigham and Women's, said he got to thinking that if defibrillators are available in public places, why not the overdose reversal nasal spray narcan? He teamed up with engineers and business developers and developed a lock box to store narcan that could be installed all over public places. He brought his idea to local city leaders.

The proposal calls for the medicine to be stored in lockboxes in areas of high drug use.

Dispatchers at 911 centers would give access codes to callers to open the boxes and explain how to use the drug.

Police and public health officials ran a mock trial and asked volunteers in Central Square to test it out.
They used a mannequin and asked people to revive them. They were hoping 30 people would agree, and 54 ended up volunteering.

Police would like to see more boxes around Somerville because they say opiates are a problem that just isn't going away. There were 295 overdoses that Cambridge police responded to alone in 2016, and 29 were fatal.

The proposal is about a year out from producing boxes on a mass scale.

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