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Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix helping to combat opioid epidemic

To download high-res video interviews and b-roll with Dr. Aneesh Narang and Summer Eaton, please follow these links: Interviews, b-roll.

PHOENIX (April 19, 2021) – As the staggering number of opioid overdoses keeps rising across the country and in Arizona, Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix recently enacted a new opioid use disorder treatment program called “Banner University LINK” to help patients in this epidemic.

The emergency department at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix will now provide naloxone – a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose – without a prescription to a caretaker, friend, or loved one of patients who have been admitted for a drug overdose. This approach has been used in some other states and major urban areas, but never previously in Arizona, said Dr. Aneesh Narang, assistant medical director for the Department of Emergency Medicine at Banner – University in Phoenix.

The effects of naloxone last a relatively short time; however, it provides caretakers enough time to get the person medical care needed to save their loved one’s life. Some hospitals prescribe naloxone to patients after an overdose, to be used in case of a second overdose."

"Unfortunately, less than 2% of patients end up getting those prescriptions filled, said Dr. Narang."

"National data estimates show that nearly 16% of the naloxone kits provided to caregivers and loved ones were used in reversing an opiate overdose," said Dr. Narang. “That's really significant and there are a lot of lives being saved, right there,” he said.

In the last six months, there were 2,086 reported cases related to overdoses in Maricopa County according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Since June 2017, more than 64,300 deaths were caused by opioid overdoses in Arizona alone.

Second overdoses often result from severe withdrawals symptoms that take place after a patient’s first hospital treatment for overdose, after their medications are taken away. Resulting withdrawal symptoms often lead people to take opioids again to relieve the pain, experts say.

“These patients that are using these heavy medications, their body builds up a tolerance and it makes it more challenging to treat them,” said Summer Eaton, registered nurse at Banner – University in Phoenix.

Naloxone (Narcan) became available in the late 1960s and today remains the only opioid antagonist free of any agonistic properties. Naloxone is a safe response to opioid overdose, almost immediately reversing the overdose and the opioid’s life-threatening effects which are often decreased respiration and heart rate.

The opioid-reversal drug can be administered through intravenous or intramuscular injections, or with a nasal spray. The kits that will be provided through the Banner University LINK program will contain the nasal spray, allowing for a simple, user-friendly way to combat an opioid overdose and give a person another chance at life.

As one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, the team at Banner Health is committed to ensuring all Banner locations are a safe place for care. Headquartered in Phoenix, Banner Health owns and operates 30 acute-care hospitals and an array of other services, including Banner Imaging, Banner Telehealth, and Banner Urgent Care. Team members are dedicated to protecting the health and safety of patients, be it a routine checkup, elective surgery or an urgent health service. Waiting room and employee workstation layouts maintain proper social distancing; screenings are conducted at hospital entrances to verify that all employees and visitors are well; and, all Banner physicians are equipped to visit patients remotely. Learn more about Banner's commitment to safety at

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