A pile of harm reduction tools, including naloxone nasal spray, fentanyl test strips and informational brochures
Rock Springs members of the Wyoming Harm Reduction Collective put together kits with naloxone, masks, toothpaste and informational fliers. (Sofia Jeremias/WyoFile)

Money to combat the nation’s opioid crisis continues to flow into Wyoming, recently in the form of $1.95 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s on top of the millions the state’s receiving via opioid settlements with companies accused of contributing to the crisis. 

The CDC funding from the Overdose Data to Action initiative, which aims to prevent overdoses using data and resources on the local and state levels, is the result of a competitive grant process awarded to Wyoming in late August, according to Wyoming Health Department spokesperson Kim Deti. 

Annual payments are expected over the next five years, she added, meaning Wyoming will receive roughly $10 million total. 

“Data to action means using different types of data to select, improve, and scale-up up [sic] drug overdose prevention programs and policies,” the CDC states, describing its initiative. “These data include surveillance data, process and outcome evaluation data, and data from partners including those who use drugs or have lived experience with drug use.”

In Wyoming, the CDC grant dollars are flowing directly into the health department. While there isn’t much detail yet to the state’s plans, Deti stated, the money will generally fall into two pools mandated by the grant: epidemiology and prevention. 

The data

As WyoFile has previously reported, some of the state’s overdose data isn’t reaching local leaders and others on the front lines of combating the opioid crisis. The privacy challenges — including after death — associated with a small population spread across rural communities are commonly blamed for the information bottlenecks.

Some of this CDC grant money will go towards epidemiology by “evaluating, analyzing and disseminating information on opioid and stimulant use and overdoses using additional data sources such as emergency department non-fatal overdose data and EMS data,” Deti stated.

While the health department expects more data to be available because of these resources, it will still take time for systems to be built and numbers to reach the public, Deti cautioned.

“It will probably take a couple of years to establish these systems and collect sufficient data for dissemination, so these data will not be available for some time,” she stated. 

Last year, an estimated 93 people died from overdoses in Wyoming, according to the Health Department. The largest contributor to those deaths was the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, which was involved in 48 of the deaths and is driving an increase in overdoses nationwide.

“It will probably take a couple of years to establish these systems and collect sufficient data for dissemination, so these data will not be available for some time.”

Kim Deti, Wyoming Department of Health

Another target of Wyoming CDC grant money is limiting and preventing harm caused by opioid use disorders. That includes providing pain management resources to clinicians, utilizing partnerships to “better understand and prevent overdose,” spreading awareness of tools like naloxone, and using health care navigators at facilities to “link people with opioid and stimulant use disorders to care and services.”

Aside from hospital staff, some EMS agencies may also request money for training on pain management to reduce unnecessary opioid administrations. That’s after promising results came out of first-of-its kind training in Laramie County.

Overdose reversal drug naloxone was being shipped out to stores around the nation last month for over-the-counter purchases. However, at around $50 a package, people with limited funds can still ask pharmacists to prescribe naloxone to them, which is often covered by insurance. Beyond those with opioid use disorders, naloxone is occasionally prescribed to older residents who take several opioid medications.

Naloxone can also often be found at some health provider offices, harm reduction groups, NEXT Distro and the state Health Department has a program that provides name-brand Narcan for free to organizations.

Madelyn Beck reports from Laramie on health and public safety. Before working with WyoFile, she was a public radio journalist reporting for NPR stations across the Mountain West, covering regional issues...

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  1. Gee, why is it so easy to come up with $10 million for a state shooting gallery to pander to the egos of popgunners? Nobody bats an eyelash at that squandering of funds, not to mention its destruction of scenery.

  2. The active and only ingredient in Narcan™ is the drug naloxone.
    It can be manufactured for pennies per dose. Example : In India ( a major global pharmaceutical manufacturing nation ) , naloxone costs about 5 cents to produce per dose. The maker is Avalon Pharma Pvt. Ltd. They also export it.
    Everywhere else in the western world , naloxone is widely available without a prescription , even over the counter to children, and it’s price ranges from cheap to dirt cheap , or even free. Naloxone is entirely safe. It has absolutely zero side effects or harmful effects, and is totally inert until called upon. Naloxone does one thing and one thing only : it neutralizes opioids. One dose is usually enough , but a couple more may be needed for a serious Fentanyl OD instance.

    So please, tell me why it costs $ 50.00 and is hard to find in Wyoming and elsewhere in the USA ? Why ?

    Short answer: because America really does not have public health care. We have WEALTHcare. For profit wealthcare. And of course, blackhearted politics behind the curtain … certain people do not really want a cheap easy readily available fix for an opioid overdose. Those folks have their own addiction , to money. High priced naloxone gets them a fix . What’s worse are the soulless who believe non-Rx opioids are criminal and the victims deserve what they (don’t ) get. I’ve actually had Wyoming law enforcement agents tell me the opioid problem eventually takes care of itself.

    Make your own case.

  3. I’m still wondering when the CDC is going to study fentanyl addiction. Outside of various buprenorphine treatments, which also have serious side affects and addictive dangers, there seems to be little funding of serious research. Fentanyl detox is gruesome and extremely hard to get through. Ibograine and other drugs have shown promise in Europe, New Zealand, Canada, and other countries, but CDC currently has not approved this or any other treatment options.