Mike DeWine, Ohio's attorney general at the time, examines an atomizer used to administer naloxone, a drug that counteracts the effects of an opioid overdose.

Ohio is launching a targeted deployment of naloxone, sending 60,000 doses of the antidote for an opioid overdose to 23 counties. The idea is to get ahead of a usual summertime rise in overdoses. Yet one of its partners in distributing the naloxone questions the equity of the plan, calling it racially biased.

Harm Reduction Ohio says the state’s plan excludes some areas that have high overdose death rates for Black Ohioans, including parts of Cincinnati and Columbus. It also charges the plan gives an insufficient amount of the drug to rural areas.

The heart of the problem: The two sides use different ways to measure the impact of overdoses.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will use $2.5 million in general revenue for naloxone to go to the 23 counties it identified with 80% of overdose deaths in Ohio. The plan, announced May 5 with RecoveryOhio, an agency Gov. Mike DeWine started in 2019 to pull together all state resources that help people with substance use disorder, and the Ohio Department of Health, included a list of ZIP codes in the counties “demonstrating the highest need for enhanced overdose reversal supplies among residents.”

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