Franklin County Narcan vending machines get pushback

Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 6:24 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Three vending machines in Franklin County are being prepared to dispense medication which can reverse an opioid overdose. The devices will provide Narcan, which is the brand name for naloxone, at no cost.

Jenny Armbruster is the deputy executive director of PreventEd, one of the organizations involved.

“So, the vending machines are just one strategy to help increase the availability of naloxone or Narcan to people in the community,” she said.

Armbruster said, because of the stigma associated with substance use disorder, some people may not feel comfortable getting naloxone at a county health department or public health clinic.

First Alert Four spoke with customers at the White Rose Cafe in Union and found some were critical of the plan to distribute the medication this way.

Karen Given, who said she’d been a nurse for 42-years, preferred the medication be used at a hospital instead of given out by a vending machine, “I’m certainly not in favor of it.”

“It’s kind of enabling them,” said Noel Robin.

Armbruster said the strong dependence that a person develops in their brain and their body is why they continue to use opioids, and not greater availability of naloxone.

“It is a life-saving medication. An emergency life-saving medication,” said Armbruster.

Naloxone is not harmful if someone who is not having an opioid overdose takes the medication.

The vending machines have put in place but won’t be stocked till next week. They’re located at the Franklin County Family Resource Center in Union, the St. Clair branch of the Scenic regional Library and inside the parking garage of the Mercy Hospital Washington outpatient surgery center in Washington.