Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday that Secretary of Health Rachel Levine had signed an order that would permit community-based organizations to provide naloxone by mail.
The order is the latest in that state’s steps to treat the opioid epidemic during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Since 2018, we have provided free naloxone kits through public events to more than 10,000 Pennsylvanians, and first responders have further assisted in getting naloxone into the community. However, we know that there are challenges in getting naloxone to people in need, particularly during a global pandemic, and this standing order will work to assist with that. It is important that people know that treatment works, and recovery is possible.”
In 2016, Levine issued a standing order that any Pennsylvanian who needed it could get naloxone at a pharmacy. The order applied not only to those using opioids, or misusing opioids, but also their friends, family and those around them who may be in a position to assist them during an opioid-related overdose.
The new order allows community-based organizations to provide those same people with naloxone by mail. The opioid-overdose reversing drug is also available at low or no cost at pharmacies across the state and has been made available by the state through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s Centralized Coordinating Entities, at free public naloxone giveaways at Pennsylvania Health Centers, through partnerships with Pennsylvania colleges and universities and through distribution to narcotic treatment providers.
“The opioid crisis does not discriminate, we know it has affected everyone regardless of location, socioeconomic class, gender, race or ethnicity,” said Ray Barishansky, Deputy Secretary of Health Preparedness and Community Protection and Incident Commander for the Opioid Crisis. “The Opioid Command Center remains committed to assisting Pennsylvanians in all ways possible who are affected by this crisis, and we believe this is another opportunity to do so by putting naloxone into the hands of the public. As COVID-19 has continued to provide renewed opioid concerns in many parts of the state, we are working tirelessly to ensure we have the ability to help those in need.”