Governor Wolf, Physician General Levine Remind Pennsylvanians about the Availability of Naloxone to Combat Overdoses
May 17, 2016
Lemoyne, PA – Governor Tom Wolf joined Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine today at the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Lemoyne to remind Pennsylvania residents and pharmacists that a doctor’s prescription is not needed to obtain the life-saving opioid overdose antidote drug naloxone.
“Fighting Pennsylvania’s opioid and heroin epidemic is a top priority for my administration, and increasing the access to and use of naloxone is a key aspect of this effort,” said Governor Wolf. “I look forward to continue working collaboratively with leaders in my administration like Dr. Levine, as well as the General Assembly and community leaders, to ensure that Pennsylvania leads the nation in the fight to combat the opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic. A collaborative effort on the federal, state, and local levels is crucial in combating this crisis.”
“Naloxone is a vital medicine that saves lives in the battle against the opioid overdose public health crisis we are experiencing in Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Levine. “The Department of Health commends Rite Aid for its efforts to increase access to this life-saving drug in the commonwealth.”
Last fall, as part of Governor Wolf’s effort to address the opioid abuse crisis in the state, Dr. Levine signed a standing order that serves as a prescription for all Pennsylvanians to access naloxone at their local pharmacies. This medication has saved the lives of hundreds of people in the commonwealth who overdosed on heroin or prescription opioids.
Naloxone rapidly reverses heroin and other opioid overdoses. In 2014, nearly 2,500 Pennsylvanians died from a drug overdose. Heroin and opioid overdose are the leading cause of accidental death in Pennsylvania, killing more individuals each year than motor vehicle accidents.
“As a community healthcare provider, Rite Aid is committed to doing our part in the fight against opioid abuse,” said Jocelyn Konrad, Rite Aid Executive Vice President of Pharmacy. “We are proud to support Governor Wolf and Dr. Levine in their efforts to expand access to naloxone and help reduce the number of deaths caused by opioid overdose across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
Some of the administration’s initiatives in the fight against heroin include: signing a statewide standing order for naloxone, making it possible for all Pennsylvanians to access this life-saving drug; equipping the Pennsylvania State Police with naloxone so that those troopers who are first on the scene of an overdose can have another tool on-hand during these emergencies; partnering with Adapt Pharma to make Narcan available to public high schools across the state at no cost; developing the ABC-MAP prescription drug monitoring program to detect and prevent prescription fraud and abuse, which contribute to addiction; and appointing a director for the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) Office, who will work to ensure that the PDMP meets its goal of assisting healthcare professionals in identifying patients that would benefit from treatment.
In an effort to curtail drug addiction and curb the supply of excess drugs that can be used illicitly, the Department of Health is leading an effort to build upon the opioid prescribing guidelines already created, including specialty specific guidelines for emergency department providers, dentists, obstetricians and gynecologists, and pharmacists. These guidelines give healthcare providers direction for safe and effective pain relief practices, with greater emphasis on non-opioid therapies and greater caution to prevent addiction and diversion. In addition, the DOH recently joined dozens of healthcare organizations, medical experts, and consumer advocacy groups in signing petitions requesting changes to federal pain management requirements that are believed to foster dangerous prescribing practices.
The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs is developing the “warm hand-off” process “warm hand-off” process, whereby overdose survivors would be taken directly from the emergency department to a licensed drug treatment provider, as well as Pennsylvania’s Prescription Drug Take-Back Program. This program helps communities properly dispose of unused prescriptions at any of the 400+ police station locations across Pennsylvania. To date, approximately 40,000 pounds of prescription drugs have been taken back and destroyed.
Governor Wolf’s decision to expand Medicaid eligibility in Pennsylvania under the Affordable Care Act has greatly increased access to treatment services for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.
Finally, Governor Wolf’s proposed 2016-17 budget provides more than $34 million to treat more than 11,250 new individuals with substance use disorder. The Department of Human Services will provide 25 new Opioid Use Disorder Centers of Excellence for individuals with substance use disorder, providing medication-assisted treatment and appropriate wraparound services, such as cognitive-based therapies. After this first phase of implementation, there will be a push for 25 more facilities that would have the capacity to treat 22,500 individuals total.
Visit the “Opioid Abuse” page at www.health.pa.gov to learn more about naloxone and how it can benefit your local community.
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