App developed to track Narcan usage could provide valuable data

Colorado purchased a lot of doses of Narcan to tackle the opioid crisis, but no one knows if the drug is doing what many in law enforcement and healthcare hope
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 3:19 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Colorado bought more than 124 thousand doses of Naloxone between July of 2021 and June of 2022, likely saving lives across the state. However, “likely” being the operative word is a problem experts in Colorado are trying to solve.

While the state is well-stocked with the overdose treatment drug Naloxone, Director of the Center for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention at the University of Colorado Rob Valuck says that no one is quite sure how many of those doses are being effectively used.

Naloxone, also called Narcan, is used to prevent the fatal symptoms of an opioid overdose.

“For all of the Naloxone that we as a state purchased and distributed through different channels, how often is it used? Who used it, what happened? Did someone’s life get saved? Did it not work? We just don’t really know a lot of that,” said Director Valuck.

The amount of doses the state purchased equates to more than 1,000 percent in just two years. Even with millions of dollars spent, no one knows how, where, or if the drug is being used.

Director Valuck called it a blind spot that the state needs to close, and created a tool to help gather needed data. Valuck created an app called OpiRescue that gives anyone with a smartphone the ability to keep track of how and where Narcan is used.

Some police departments in Colorado use a similar app, but it’s hard to know if the numbers are an accurate representation of state-level usage. The Colorado State Patrol, for example, has only documented 12 uses of Narcan from the beginning of 2020 through June of 2022. Valuck finds that number hard to believe. “It’s impossible that that’s accurate. It’s an undercount,” said Director Valuck.