Wolf Admin: Pa. residents encouraged to equip naloxone as overdoses rise

Regional News

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ)– Members of the Wolf Administration gathered Wednesday to urge Pennsylvanians to keep naloxone, also known as NARCAN, on hand in order to help reduce overdose deaths in the state.

Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jen Smith along with Department of Health (DOH) Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson and the Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) at South Central EMS were involved in the discussion.

“As we work to deal with the increase in overdose deaths across the commonwealth, expanding access to naloxone continues to be a top priority of the Wolf Administration,” said Smith. “You never know when you may come across an individual suffering from an overdose. There are numerous ways that Pennsylvanians can access life-saving naloxone and we’re here today to encourage that people take advantage of those resources.”

In 2014, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and Johnson signed standing orders that allowed pharmacies to give naloxone to the general public and also first responders.

Recently, Pennsylvania teamed up with Prevention Point Pittsburgh and NEXT Distro in order to approve a statewide mail-based naloxone program for individuals to request the medication for their personal use.

“We know that naloxone is one of our greatest tools in the fight against substance use disorder,” Dr. Johnson said. “Carrying naloxone is the simplest and most direct way to assist in the event of an overdose. When used as directed, naloxone is fast-acting and can save a life without risk to the intervening bystander.”

County/Regional Centralized Coordinating Entities (CCEs) act as the main contact for first responders to request access to the medication at no cost. CCEs will give out naloxone the the priority first responder groups listed below:

  • Organizations that provide services and supports to individuals who are currently using substances, such as harm reduction organizations;
  • Individuals with substance use disorder (SUD) and/or opioid use disorder (OUD) leaving the county and/or state correctional facilities;
  • Individuals leaving a SUD/OUD treatment facility and/or in recovery;
  • Individuals receiving care in emergency departments for an overdose;
  • Probation and Parole Officers;
  • Law enforcement agencies (including municipal police, sheriff’s offices, campus police, campus security, school resource officers, and park rangers);
  • Firefighters (both volunteer and paid firefighters);
  • Emergency medical services, advanced life support, basic life support, and emergency medical technicians; and/or
  • Other first responder organizations serving individuals and communities impacted by substance use that are legally organized and trained to respond to overdose emergencies and administer intranasal naloxone.

“PCCD remains committed to the distribution of naloxone throughout the state to prevent overdose deaths and save lives,” Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Executive Director Michael Pennington said. “Our agency will continue to work with our partners at the state and local levels to increase availability of this life-saving medication for individuals and communities with the greatest need.”

Since November 2017, through the Naloxone for First Responders Program, over 114,000 NARCAN kits have been handed out to first responder groups and more than 19,000 reverse overdoses have been recorded to date.

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