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Arkansas distributing 15,000 Narcan kits to combat opioid problem

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(The Center Square) – More than 15,000 Narcan kits will be distributed to law enforcement agencies across Arkansas to help address the opioid problem, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday.

It’s costing the state just under $700,000 to provide the medication to city and county law enforcement agencies, the governor said during an event at the Naloxone distribution center at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock. Narcan is used to treat known or suspected opioid overdoses.

“While what we’re doing today is certainly a positive step in the right direction, it’s still a sad thing that it has to happen at all,” Sanders said. “As I travel around the state of Arkansas and even, frankly, all over the country, it’s hard to find a single individual, a single family that is not impacted by the drug crisis that is ravaging our cities, our communities, and our citizens.”

Arkansas has the second-highest opioid prescribing rate in the nation and fentanyl overdose deaths in the state rose by over 250% from 2019 to 2021, according to Arkansas Take Back, which was developed in 2010 in partnership with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Arkansas Governor’s Office and other organizations.

The governor said her administration would continue to take steps on multiple fronts to address the issue.

“Whether that’s through legislation, whether that’s through sending our amazing men and women of the Arkansas National Guard to the border to stop the flow of drugs into the country, or whether that is distributing Narcan kits like what we’re doing today,” she said.

Sanders said supplying the Narcan kits would allow the state to “fight back against a growing problem.”

The U.S. economic cost of opioid use disorder is $471 billion, and the cost of fatal opioid overdoses is $550 billion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We want to continue to make sure that every law enforcement agency and individual has the tools and the resources they need to help keep our communities safe,” the governor said. “I wish this wasn’t something we were dealing with but as long as we are we’re going to continue to help give our teams the resources that they need.”

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