LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – New research shows Arkansas is making progress in the effort to prevent opioid overdose deaths.

The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement announced Wednesday that the state had made strides in expanding statewide access to the lifesaving opioid overdose treatment drug naloxone.

According to the ACHI study, naloxone prescriptions are up, with 4,848 receiving prescriptions in 2021, compared to only 86 people in 2017. Meanwhile, opioid prescriptions in Arkansas are declining. In 2021 prescriptions were issued to 238,774 Arkansas residents, a 38.1% drop from 2017 and its 385,774 prescriptions.

Access to the drug continues to improve through the ACHI-administered NaloxHome program, which launched on May 31 and is now at 21 hospitals in the state.

The program provides free naloxone to participating Arkansas hospitals to dispense to patients or caregivers of patients who have experienced an overdose or are at risk for an overdose at discharge from the emergency room. To date, 37 units of naloxone have been dispensed via the program.

ACHI studied naloxone and opioid prescriptions for Arkansans with Medicaid or commercial insurance for the fiscal years 2017 to 2021, using data from the Arkansas All-Payer Claims Database, which is part of the Arkansas Healthcare Transparency Initiative.

Naloxone was originally marketed and known under the name “Narcan” nasal spray but has now expanded and is available under different trade names. It may be injected or inhaled.