'We'll give it to them no questions asked': Anti-overdose medicine free for Richmond residents

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – As the number of overdoses goes up, health departments are taking more preventative steps to help save lives when overdoses do happen.

“Whether or not people asked for it per se, its a need that needed to be addressed,” said Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director of the Richmond City Health District.

For about a year, the Health District has been training Richmond residents on how to use the anti-overdose medication, Narcan, also known as Naloxone.

At the end of the training program, called ‘REVIVE!’, those people get two doses of Narcan — free of charge.

Its all part of comprehensive plans to combat the opioid epidemic in Central Virginia.

“Folks at risk for opioid overdose should have Naloxone, [and] should know how to use Naloxone,” said Dr. Viray.

“Their friends, their family, and their community should know how to use it.”

The Richmond City Health District gets funding from the Virginia Department of Health to make these ‘REVIVE!’ trainings happen.

“We want to get it into the hands of people who can’t otherwise afford it,” said Dr. Viray.

 “They can come here, and we’ll give it to them, no questions asked.”

After the training, residents take home a box of Narcan, which has two doses inside.

Dr. Viray says using the medication is as simple as squeezing a nasal spray pump — just like an allergy medication — to reverse an overdose.

“People have felt that its empowering and it allows them to have the skills to respond,” said Dr. Viray. 

While anybody can purchase anti-overdose medication at a pharmacy, it can be costly.

Dr. Viray says she’s seen the cost range from $50-$150 a box.

She and her team hope this access to free Narcan will help save lives.

Since July 2017, the Richmond City Health District says 247 people have been trained on this medicine, with nearly 700 doses given out to the Richmond community.

“Our desire is to get it out into the hands of the folks who need it the most,” said Dr. Viray.

The Richmond City Health District has a Narcan training and dispensing event Friday, May 4th from 2-3 p.m. at its building on East Cary Street.

That training and dispensing is limited to the first 25 people so there’s enough Narcan to give out.

To learn more about the ‘REVIVE!’ program, click here.

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