Under scrutiny for potentially playing a role in triggering the nation’s opioid epidemic by encouraging the widespread use of opioid pain medications, Cardinal Health, a Dublin, Ohio-based pharmaceutical distributor, announced the launch of a new program it hopes to turn the tide in the ongoing epidemic. The Opioid Action Program is aimed at helping communities in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, and will have four key elements.
As part of the program, Cardinal Health will:
- Purchase about 80,000 doses of naloxone nasal spray for use by first responders and law enforcement officials in each of the four states;
- Increase its existing support for drug take back and education programs;
- Invest $3 million in the expansion of grants focused on youth prevention education, prescriber awareness and reduction efforts, and community responses in the four states; and
- Partner with the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University in Providence, R.I., to share medical school curricula that addresses opioid misuse and treatment through collaboration with medical schools across the country.
The program comes as Cardinal Health, ranked No. 15 in the 2017 Fortune 500, faces questions about its potential role in the opioid epidemic. The company is one of several major drug distributors named in a lawsuit accusing the companies of encouraging widespread use of opioid pain medications and profiting at the expense of patients who become addicted to the medications.
In a news release, Cardinal Health says it will evaluate the effectiveness of the program and explore options for expanding it to additional states.