Memphis receives medication to stop opioid-related deaths

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The City of Memphis received a big donation on Monday: 6,900 doses of Narcan to help reverse opioid overdoses.

It's one of the biggest challenges facing both police officers and firefighters on the streets of Memphis: people overdosing from opioids.

But now, they've received some big help from a local doctor.

Dr. Denise Pratt, the CEO of First Pharmacy Services, donated thousands of doses of Narcan nasal spray to the city.

"You just shake it and you insert it and point it this way to the outer nose and then squirt it," Dr. Pratt said.

A former ER and ICU doctor, Pratt led efforts to win the grant that paid for the Narcan.

"I don't want our community members dying, and I want to help increase awareness of it and help people learn how to prevent this disease," Dr. Pratt said.

City officials said 19 people have died from opioid overdoses this year. The good news is the number of deaths in 2018 is already on track to be much lower than the 100 deaths the city had been averaging over the past couple years.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland called that progress but said more needs to be done.

"We've got to get people treatment for their addictions," Mayor Strickland said.

Dr. Pratt said the first step is for people to recognize the seriousness of their problem.

"I think that everybody's ashamed of it," Dr. Pratt said. "Nobody needs to be ashamed. All of us have our own set of problems and we have to work together as a community."

Dr. Pratt said while administering the Narcan nasal spray is easy and anyone can do it, they should always remember to dial 911.

Last year, Memphis first responders administered 2,500 doses of Narcan, potentially saving 2,200 lives.

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