Department of Health encourages Pennsylvanians to carry life-saving medication
Harrisburg, PA – The Shapiro Administration is reminding Pennsylvanians about the multiple ways to access the life-saving opioid reversal medication, naloxone, as nearly 23,000 opioid overdose reversals have been made with naloxone purchased through one of the state's programs since 2017.
"Anyone can save a life by administering naloxone to a person who is experiencing an opioid overdose," said Acting Health Secretary Dr. Debra Bogen. "I encourage Pennsylvanians to obtain naloxone from a pharmacy, community give away event, or other sources – and learn how to give it. You never know when you could save the life of a stranger neighbor, friend, or family member."
Naloxone is a medication approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose by quickly restoring breathing to a person if their breathing has slowed or stopped.
While naloxone can be administered by individuals with or without medical training to help reduce opioid overdose deaths, individuals are strongly encouraged to take this free training to better prepare themselves to assist someone in need. Completing this training and printing a certificate of completion will protect individuals administering naloxone as Good Samaritans.
Pennsylvania residents as well as community organizations can obtain naloxone through a variety of low- or no-cost options.
"We are continuing to work with our local and state partners in the drug and alcohol field to make naloxone more readily available," said Acting Secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Dr. Latika Davis-Jones. "We must keep fellow Pennsylvanians alive and decrease the chances of individuals suffering a fatal overdose."
Naloxone for First Responders
The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency's (PCCD) Naloxone for First Responders Program (NFRP) distributes free naloxone to organizations and individuals who may encounter someone experiencing an overdose.
Through the NFRP since 2017, Centralized Coordinating Entities (CCEs) distributed 214,514 kits (429,028 doses) to organizations and individuals who may encounter someone experiencing an overdose and an additional 265,308 kits of naloxone directly to organizations serving high-need communities through its statewide portal.
More than 22,815 overdose reversals have been reported using state-purchased NARCAN, a particular brand name of naloxone.
Pennsylvania residents can purchase or use their insurance to obtain naloxone at local pharmacies without a prescription from their physician by presenting a copy of the Department of Health's standing order.
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging's PACE prescription assistance program is using its network of 2,800 retail and health system pharmacies to help with distribution. Anyone, regardless of insurance status, can receive $75 in financial assistance to purchase any naloxone medication authorized through the Department of Health's standing order.
"In order to help get naloxone to people who need it for themselves or a loved one, we need to do everything we can to make naloxone medications more easily accessible at trusted, familiar locations within communities, such as local pharmacies," said Acting Secretary of Aging Jason Kavulich, noting that as one example, seniors who are struggling to protect an adult child or grandchild from an overdose can now obtain naloxone from a nearby pharmacy they know and use for their own prescriptions.
Free by Mail
Pennsylvania partners with Prevention Point Pittsburgh and NEXT Distro to support a statewide mail-based naloxone program for Pennsylvania residents to request and receive naloxone for free by mail.
Learn more about the Shapiro Administration's efforts in combating the overdose crisis at pa.gov/opioids.
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