The facilitators behind Remedy Alliance/For The People
We’re the ones negotiating with pharmaceutical companies, packing your shipments, and answering your questions. While the three of us are here today, many have come before us to make RA/FTP possible. We’re eternally grateful for the visionaries, mentors, advocates, programs, and people who use drugs who make naloxone access a little bit easier every day.
Photo of Dan, Eliza and Maya from the 2016 National Harm Reduction Conference at the Buyers Club workshop
Our staff & advisors
Eliza Wheeler (she/her/hers)
In 2001, I started working at the Cambridge Needle Exchange in Massachusetts. I met my greatest mentors and teachers there, the amazing humans who used the program, and people who had been doing syringe access and underground naloxone distribution for many years. I became friends and co-conspirators with Maya Doe-Simkins in 2004. I spent eight life-changing years in Cambridge learning and hanging out in the drop-in slinging coffee and syringes and free cigarettes (sorry not sorry, DPH). In 2009 I moved to California to work with the DOPE Project in San Francisco and started learning more about the challenges that harm reduction programs across the country were still facing in getting access to affordable naloxone, despite growing mainstream attention.
Sometime around 2012 I ended up working with Dan Bigg and Maya (aka shrimp) to coordinate the naloxone Buyers Club, which mostly consisted of trying to wrangle Dan on three-way phone calls, making spreadsheets and connecting harm reduction programs to millions of doses of cheap naloxone. Now ten years later, this labor of love has transformed into Remedy Alliance/For the People, and we are finally making Dan’s vision a reality–that harm reduction programs across the country have access to the resources they need to care for their communities and that naloxone gets directly into the hands of people who use drugs and their friends and family.
Somewhere in these last 20+ years I also wrote and contributed to some research and policy work around expanding access to naloxone for people who use drugs and related topics and repeatedly spoke to government people while wearing my one suit. In 2019 I co-organized the Alliance for Collaborative Drug Checking (ACDC) with colleagues in Chicago, which is now an international learning space with nearly 300 members who are developing advanced drug checking services for harm reduction settings.
Today, RA/FTP is my main focus, but I still work needle exchange every Friday at my favorite program, Homeless Youth Alliance in San Francisco and am honored to serve on the Board for Maine Access Points. I love gardening and hanging out with my perfect dog Chicky and rad guy Jason.
Maya Doe-Simkins (she/her/hers)
Maya Doe-Simkins has been in the public health field for 20 years training on, implementing and researching overdose prevention programs. She has worked with the largest overdose prevention program in the US, helped launch the first overdose education and naloxone distribution program using nasal naloxone, and was part of the team that published the first effectiveness studies on community naloxone distribution. She has worked with both grassroots and local & state governmental organizations to implement services for people who use drugs, authored manuals & curricula, and published scientific research.
Maya was cajoled into coordinating Remedy Alliance by Dan Bigg in 2012- she is so proud to be a part of this amazing collaborative & supportive network that collectively distributed about 4 million naloxone doses in 4 years. Maya lives in rural northern lower Michigan, where cell service can be spotty- on rare occasion, this is a convenient excuse to get out of meetings.
Maya & Eliza have been tag-teaming naloxone expansion together since 2004. They affectionately call each other “shrimp”.
Dr. Nabarun Dasgupta (he/him/his)
Co-founder and Board Chair
Dan Bigg and I met playing soccer at the National Harm Reduction Conference in Seattle in 2002. During graduate school and beyond, Dan became a mentor and dear friend. In 2012, faced with a national naloxone shortage, Dan and I approached Hospira (later acquired by Pfizer) to negotiate the original deal on affordable naloxone that led to the creation of the OSNN Buyers Club. Over the following decade, Maya and Eliza, two of my harm reduction heroes, kept the dream (and tens of thousands of people) alive. In 2021, faced with yet another (affordable) naloxone shortage, Maya and Eliza reached out to me to help with pharma negotiations. After tenacious and daring calls with pharmaceutical companies and government officials, we found a willing partner in Hikma to help diversify the supply of naloxone for harm reduction programs. As we formalized Remedy Alliance, I took on the role of Board Chair – which is a huge honor and responsibility.
I am guided by this simple formula for innovation: 1) get bulk naloxone in the hands of harm reduction programs for cheap or free; 2) pay outreach workers; then 3) all us squares (clinicians, government officials, academics) need to get out of the way.
Look, I’m not dissing pharmacy distribution out of hand. In fact, in 2007 through the non-profit Project Lazarus, I co-founded and pioneered opioid+naloxone co-prescribing, and pharmacy-based dispensing. It was the right solution in places where overdose deaths were exclusively due to prescribed opioid analgesics. A decade-and-half later, the overdose problem is more due to illicitly manufactured opioids, and the focus on naloxone distribution needs to evolve.
My day job is being a pharmaco-epidemiologist and The Innovation Fellow for the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health. Check out our portfolio of studies at the Opioid Data Lab.
I do not have a crustacean nickname, but can be often found at the seashore.
Visionaries, mentors and teachers
Dan Bigg, whose vision and tenacity started it all. Holly Bradford, for your radical and no-bullshit self, always pushing us to be better. Dr. Nabarun Dasgupta, our advisor, and friend. Alice Bell, who has done the lion’s share of coordination for 13 years. All of the activists, advocates, radical doctors, and researchers who have worked for 25 years to get naloxone into the hands of people who use drugs.
People who use drugs
For the tens of thousands of lives you have saved, for your resilience in the face of relentless threats to your safety and well-being. For all of those we have lost to the violence of the war on drugs.
Harm Reduction programs
The programs that make up RA/FTP are out there every day taking care of each other and working to direct resources to people who use drugs despite systematic and structural exclusion from mainstream public health and health care systems. You are the backbone of naloxone distribution in this country. Your work may be invisibilized by the dominant power structures, but we see you.
Photos left to right: Chicago Recovery Alliance Van (Scott Olson/Getty Images), Overdose Awareness Day, San Francisco (photo by Terry Morris), Anna McConnell holding a bottle of naloxone at Glide’s needle exchange in San Francisco (photo by Mike Koozmin)