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New State Program Will Mail Free Narcan Kits

A new state program will offer free Narcan nasal spray kits to anyone in the state.

A new state program will provide free opioid overdose reversal kits to Iowans.

The program is part of a partnership between the Iowa Department of Public Health and the University of Iowa. It will mail naloxone, also known as Narcan, kits to anyone in the state after they have a video consultation with a pharmacist.

Kevin Gabbert, the opioids initiatives director at the state Department of Public Health, said the program is meant to eliminate any barriers to getting the drug.

"What we're doing is we're trying to make sure that any individual, any Iowan, that wants to have a Narcan kit because they're concerned about someone who uses opioids has one," he said.

Gabbert said even though the drug is widely available in pharmacies, it can be too expensive for some.

"The problem is a cost per prescription could be upwards of $150 for a two pack or for a two dose kit. For many individuals, it's a significant cost," he said.

Last year, 138 Iowans died from an opioid overdose, which is down from 207 deaths in 2017.

Gabbert said Iowa is known as a "low instance" state, meaning it had fewer opioid-related deaths than the national average.

"However, what we're striving for is to be a no incident state, meaning that we don't have any deaths as a result of opioids," he said.

Signs of an overdose include slower breathing, vomiting, blue lips, fingernails or toenails, and a slow or erratic pulse, Gabbert said.

Anyone interested in getting a free kit can visit naloxoneiowa.org to schedule a consultation.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter