CHICAGO (August 28, 2023) The Cook County Sheriff’s Office today received 2,000 life-saving naloxone devices from a Kentucky-based pharmaceutical company via Lawndale Christian Legal Center.
The donation comes after representatives from Louisville-based US WorldMeds saw a CBS-2 story about Matthew McFarland of Lawndale Christian Legal Center reviving an individual with naloxone at a West Side gas station – during an interview with the reporter on another topic. US WorldMeds contacted McFarland to discuss a naloxone donation and then McFarland contacted the Sheriff’s Office about the opportunity to save more lives in Chicago and suburban Cook County.
“Naloxone is lifesaving,” Sheriff Dart said. “Our staff has distributed more than 20,000 naloxone kits to individuals who may need it, recognizing that recovery from opioid use disorder is not easy. Through our own surveys we know at least 40% are used in life-threatening situations. We are thankful to Matt McFarland for thinking of the Sheriff’s Office as a way to get this important medication to those who need it most.”
The donated devices will be distributed to Sheriff’s Office community-based programs that assist individuals struggling with substance use disorder as well as their friends and families. Among the programs to utilize the donation will be the Sheriff’s Housing Assistance Resource Program (SHARP), which works directly with unhoused individuals throughout the county. Studies have found that unhoused individuals have a higher risk of opioid overdose than housed individuals. SHARP provides individuals they encounter with critical resources, including naloxone, connections to treatment, housing, and medical care.
Cook County Sheriff’s Police also carry naloxone, and since 2019 officers have administered the drug 166 times.
Today’s announcement arrives after last month’s news from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, which reported 2,000 opioid-overdose deaths in 2022 – breaking the previous record of 1,935 in 2021. The medical examiner reports that more than 91 percent of opioid overdoses, or 1,825, involved fentanyl, in 2022.
McFarland, a graduate of the Cook County Drug Court program, stopped using heroin and crack cocaine in December 2015. He has revived about 50 people with naloxone, dating back to his days of using heroin.
“I want to get this life-saving treatment into the hands of first responders,” McFarland said. “I appreciate the phone call I received from US WorldMeds. There was no sales pitch. It was just about getting naloxone into the community where it can do the most good.”
“And I immediately thought that the Cook County Sheriff’s Office is the best agency to put these devices to use and save lives,” McFarland said. “Sheriff Dart understands that it’s possible to support law enforcement and treatment for people who live like I once lived.”
The US WorldMeds product, ZIMHI (pronounced “zim-high”), is a one-dose naloxone treatment that is administered via injection.