PA government makes naloxone more accessible
The rise in heroin addiction and prescription drug abuse in Pennsylvania — the leading cause of accidental deaths in the state among people 25 to 64 years old— has forced the government to address it as a public health crisis.
On Wednesday, Governor Tom Wolf and Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine signed and announced a statewide standing order for naloxone, a medication that can reverse an overdose that is caused by an opioid drug.
This standing order is like a statewide prescription for naloxone, which allows pharmacies to dispense this drug to anyone who requests it.
“Making it possible for all Pennsylvania residents to access the life-saving drug naloxone is a huge victory in our battle against drug overdose deaths in the commonwealth,” said Dr. Levine. “I am proud to sign this standing order and continue the efforts of the Wolf Administration to protect the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians. This forward-thinking initiative gives people the tools they need to keep their communities and families intact.”
Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas; Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis; Department of Health Secretary Karen Murphy; and Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Chairman, Josh Shapiro also supported Gov. Wolf decision to make naloxone more accessible to all Pennsylvanians.
“Too many Pennsylvania families are being affected by this crisis,” said Tennis. “In addition to finding solutions like these to save lives, we are also working hard to raise awareness and break down stigmas about substance abuse disorders. My department will continue to work tirelessly to provide the best possible recovery and treatment options, to ensure that we do not see high rates of overdose recurrences.”
According to Government data, one in four families in Pennsylvania suffer from the effects of substance abuse addiction and in 2014, 2,488 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses — more than in fatal motor vehicle accidents.
Naloxone also has a place in Governor Wolf’s 2015-16 budget ($7.5 million in funds).
For Murphy, it’s also a matter of education. “Educating Pennsylvanians on how to use naloxone in case of an emergency is essential to curbing the devastating number of opioid-related overdose deaths that we have seen in the commonwealth over the past several years.”
The government has created a toolkit for naloxone that is available online.