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Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen and two volunteers, Aerian Tatum and Kate Howard, demonstrate the use of Narcan (Naloxene) to save lives of overdose victims at a Coppin State University seminar for educators in the College of Health Professions. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun video)

We agree with the authors of the recent commentary observing that real-time information on opioid overdoses is key to stopping this epidemic ("Treat the 'opioid epidemic' like an epidemic, with real-time surveillance," April 29).

In Baltimore, we are making this a reality. As part of our citywide Fentanyl Task Force, the Baltimore City Health Department works with our partners including EMS, emergency departments, and police to obtain daily updates on overdoses. We identify "hotspots" — geographical spikes in overdose — and together with our partners at Behavioral Health System Baltimore, we send out alerts and deploy outreach teams in real time to educate residents on how to save lives using the opioid antidote, naloxone.

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While we agree that we should treat overdoses as we do infectious disease outbreaks, there are additional barriers including privacy concerns, stigma and technological and financial constraints. In any public health emergency, resources should be targeted to areas of greatest need, and we in Baltimore continue to press for additional financial support from our federal and state partners.

We welcome the authors and every resident to be a part of these efforts to save lives and improve health in Baltimore.

Mark O'Brien and Dr. Leana S. Wen, Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, director of opioid overdose prevention and treatment for the Baltimore City Health Department and Baltimore City Health Commissioner.

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