HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Wolf Administration announced on Wednesday, March 23 the expansion of a standing order that Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson regarding the life-saving drug Naloxone.
This expansion includes an eight-milligram naloxone nasal spray. Members of the general public can print a copy of the order and present it at their local pharmacy to obtain life-saving naloxone.
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“Naloxone saves lives,” Pa. Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said. “Naloxone is an essential tool in the commonwealth’s approach to addressing the opioid crisis. We continue to ensure residents have access to the life-saving tool along with resources to learn how to administer it.”
Last year, the FDA approved the higher dosage of naloxone nasal spray to reverse an opioid overdose. The FDA had previously approved two-milligram and four-milligram naloxone nasal spray products.
“They may normally with a four (milligram dose) have to do it twice or sometimes three times depending,” said Steve Barndt, executive director of JFT Recovery and Veteran Support Services.
Barndt said the pandemic set the perfect storm for addiction because of so much isolation. But the majority of deaths were due to fentanyl.
“Fentanyl’s in everything now. It’s not just you got a bag of heroin. There could be fentanyl in it or an opioid. The pills are being made as other pills but they’re really fentanyl,” Barndt said.
“You never know when you may come across an individual experiencing an overdose. There are numerous ways that Pennsylvanians can access life-saving naloxone and we encourage everyone to take advantage of those resources,” DDAP Secretary Jen Smith said. “With this new product, we’re giving Pennsylvanians an additional tool in the toolbox for combatting the increase in fentanyl across the commonwealth.”
Gaudenzia Regional Medical Director Dr. Phillip Moore agrees.
“It is a critical moment and it is very fortunate that we have access to this,” Moore said.
Moore says there’s still a lot of work to be done to prevent and treat substance use disorder.
“COVID has been an issue but we don’t want, you know, one epidemic to eclipse another and we don’t we just don’t want to forget about the opioid epidemic,” Moore said.
The Department of Health recently revised Pennsylvania’s naloxone training video, available through Train PA, to include updated overdose death statistics and information on administering naloxone. To watch the training, you must create an account through Train PA.
“In order to have access to treatment, you need to stay alive. And so we want to make sure that naloxone is available throughout the Commonwealth. So that people can have that opportunity to enter treatment,” Johnson said.