The state is set to give away one free dose of naloxone on September 25th from 9 AM to 3 PM.
Residents of Pennsylvania were able to claim a free dose of naloxone last Wednesday (Sept. 18), thanks to Governor Tom Wolf and the state’s Department of Health. The medication was made available to anyone who wanted it, whether they used opioid drugs or simply wanted to hang on to a dose just in case.
Naloxone has made waves as something of a miracle drug, able to instantly reverse an opioid overdose with a single injection or nasal spray. By binding to opioid receptors in the brain, naloxone can and has saved many lives.
Increasing Access To Naloxone
Advocates for increasing the accessibility of naloxone believe it is simply a common sense approach that must be undertaken to combat the opioid crisis.
“Naloxone has one function: to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and respiratory system to save someone’s life,” Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “It is impossible to get someone into treatment who is dead. In 2018, more than 4,400 people died from a drug overdose. Every Pennsylvanian has a role to play as a potential first responder and can save a life by having naloxone on hand and using it if they come across someone who has overdosed.”
Another Naloxone Giveaway Is Coming Up
The lifesaving medication could be claimed for free in 87 locations across the state, including state health centers and municipal health departments. The state will do another round of freebies on September 25th from 9 AM to 3 PM.
This kind of progressive policy to combat overdoses has been done before in New Jersey, which gave away doses of the stuff for free through select pharmacies on June 18th this year. Such approaches were based on a study that showed that a combination of increased access to naloxone and Good Samaritan laws could save lives.
“Naloxone access and Good Samaritan laws are associated with 14% and 15% reductions, respectively, in opioid overdose deaths,” read the paper, published in Addictive Behaviors. “Among African-Americans, naloxone and Good Samaritan laws reduce opioid overdose deaths by 23% and 26% respectively. Neither of these harm reduction measures result in increases in non-medical opioid use.”
Better yet, this was achieved without the negative effects some predicted. Critics of such programs believed that with such a strong safety net, people may use more opioids than before, but the data do not support anything like this happening.
“The scourge of opioids continues to devastate families and communities across our state, and we must do everything we can to end the opioid epidemic,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “Through this initiative, people who are battling with addiction will be able to receive access to this critical medication and help them get on a path to recovery.”