Issues & Solutions

Confronting the Opioid Crisis

In response to the opioid epidemic in the United States, Direct Relief is working with Pfizer to make up to 1 million doses of overdose-reversing Naloxone available at no cost to community health centers, free and charitable clinics, public health departments and other nonprofit providers nationwide. Naloxone can rapidly revive normal breathing in an individual who has overdosed on heroin or prescription opioid medications.
Dr. Charles Fenzi holds up a vial at the Goleta Neighborhood Clinic.

Quick Facts

  • Direct Relief began distributing the donations of Naloxone in March 2017.
  • The initial distributions to facilities in 38 states included 36,790 doses of the drug.
  • Communities with the most overdoses and providers with existing programs and training in place were given priority.

In Focus

Providing Overdose-Reversing Naloxone

To gauge demand for the drug and obtain perspectives from clinicians working in primary care health settings, Direct Relief surveyed thousands of health centers, free and charitable clinics, and public health departments nationwide. The survey revealed that community health centers and clinics are dealing more frequently with opioid-related overdoses. Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers also said that, as the problem continues grows nationwide, they depend increasingly on programs like Direct Relief and Pfizer’s to supplement treatment options.

“America’s nonprofit community health centers and clinics are on the front lines of the opioid overdose epidemic, as they are in every major public health issue,” said Thomas Tigher, Direct Relief’s President and CEO. “Direct Relief is deeply thankful for Pfizer’s expansive commitment of Naloxone, which will not only avert tragedy and save lives but also help the safety-net health centers lean into the critically important preventive and education measures at which they excel in their communities.”

Direct Relief operates the nation’s largest charitable medicine program, is licensed to distribute prescription drugs in all 50 states, and is the only humanitarian nonprofit designated as a verified-accredited wholesale distributor by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

Future shipments will include needles, syringes and alcohol swabs, which BD has donated to support the effort.

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