Narcan training

Participants at a Narcan training event in Keene in 2016 learned how to use the opioid overdose-reversal drug.

The Keene and Claremont chapters of Planned Parenthood will now distribute naloxone, which temporarily counters the effects of opioid overdoses, as part of a pilot program announced Tuesday.

Planned Parenthood talks with patients about drug use and was able to provide patients with a naloxone prescription before the program launched. But now, naloxone can be offered to patients at no cost, according to spokesman Derek Edry.

The service will be offered in partnership with the state’s Doorway program — New Hampshire’s “hub and spoke” system, launched in 2018, to screen, assess and refer people to treatment and support services in the community.

The two centers in Keene and Claremont were chosen for the pilot because they are the only community health centers in Cheshire and Sullivan counties, Edry said.

“Offering naloxone at these two health centers will increase availability of this lifesaving medicine in these two underserved counties,” he said in an email.

Naloxone nasal spray, also known as Narcan, works by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain, blocking the effects of opioids. It’s not a substitute for emergency medical care, and if someone has overdosed, emergency services should still be contacted, the release says.

The naloxone will be provided by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System, part of the state’s Doorway program, Edry said.

Only New Hampshire residents can use the program and must schedule an appointment — which can be a telehealth visit during the COVID-19 pandemic — to get naloxone. Patients can then pick up the naloxone at the Keene or Claremont health center.

Along with these Planned Parenthood centers, The Keene Serenity Center and The Doorway also distribute naloxone.

Planned Parenthood has four other locations in the Granite State, as well facilities in Vermont and Maine, which served a total of nearly 45,000 patients in 2019.

Olivia Belanger can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or obelanger@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @OBelangerKS.