Gov. Wolf and Lt. Gov. Fetterman Provide Progress on Opioid Epidemic Battle, Receive Overdose Reversal Medication Training

May 22, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and Lt. Governor John Fetterman today provided an update on fighting the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania before participating in a naloxone training with AmeriHealth Caritas and Prevention Point.

Narcan is the brand name for naloxone, the lifesaving overdose reversal medication saving lives in Pennsylvania and across the country. Gov. Wolf and Lt. Gov. Fetterman were joined at the training by Jennifer Smith, secretary for the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Ray Barishansky, incident commander for the Opioid Command Center housed at PEMA.

“Curbing the opioid epidemic is one of my highest priorities because this crisis continues to have such an immensely detrimental effect on every Pennsylvanian,” Gov. Wolf said. “We know that opioid use disorder is a disease and people suffering from this disease deserve to be rescued and connected to high-quality treatment toward recovery. We cannot get people into treatment if they are dead. By training people to properly use naloxone, we can all do our part in this crisis.”

“We would never judge someone for carrying an EpiPen if they or a loved one suffered from a deadly allergy,” Lt. Gov. Fetterman said. “We know that opioid use disorder is a disease, not a personal failing. Every life is worth saving.”

AmeriHealth Caritas, a Medicaid managed care organization, sponsored the training, the latest in a series of the company’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. The rollout included a series of overdose reversal trainings in the Capitol today in addition to the training session for the governor and lt. governor. Prevention Point in Philadelphia led the training.

“We’re honored to have Governor Wolf and Lieutenant Governor Fetterman with us as we expand our Opioid Blueprint to serve our members in Pennsylvania,” said AmeriHealth Caritas Chairman and CEO Paul Tufano. “As a company that is deeply embedded in the communities we serve, we witness the struggles our members face. Opioid addiction doesn’t discriminate – regardless of income, race, gender or age, it has had a devastating effect on our neighbors, friends, families and co-workers. The struggle against opioid addiction is one no one should face alone, and we’ll do everything we can so more lives are not lost to this disease.”

Gov. Wolf has made fighting the opioid crisis a top priority of the administration and is continuing to work across the aisle to address this looming public health issue. Since establishing our Opioid Command Center in January 2018, the Wolf Administration has been able to implement smart tactics to tackle opioid use disorder, including:

• Expanding Medicaid so more people can access treatment;
• Launching a 24/7 helpline for opioid use disorder sufferers or their families to seek immediate help into treatment;
• Strengthening the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program;
• Sponsoring a naloxone distribution day where more than 6,000 kits were distributed across the state;
• Connecting more than 1,300 municipal police departments and other agencies to share data about overdoses; and most recently
• Issuing a supportive statement for Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies producing opioids.

Learn more about the governor’s and his administration’s efforts to keep fighting this epidemic.

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