Sept. 16-20 and Sept. 23-27 was officially Stop Overdoses in PA: Get Help Now Week in Pennsylvania. The initiative aimed to provide Pennsylvanians with the overdose-reversing naloxone drug, commonly referred to as its brand name Narcan. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website, the goal of the week is to, “get help for residents suffering from the disease of opioid-use disorder.”
To forward this initiative, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania gave out kits of naloxone to residents across 95 different locations. Naloxone is a drug that can revive someone experiencing an opioid overdose.
Brittany Lauffer, public information officer for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, explained the effort as it pertains to Waynesburg’s involvement and the cost of the drug.
“It varies by insurance, but the approximate cost of the naloxone kit with two doses is about $120,” Lauffer said. “Greene County distributed a total of 24 kits of naloxone from the Greene County State Health Center on Sept. 18 and 25.”
Lauffer also explained the success of the event, as well as it’s brief history.
“The Wolf Administration held the first Stop Overdoses in PA: Get Help Now Week in Dec. 2018…,” Lauffer said. “The administration provided nearly 14,000 kits of naloxone in both the Dec. and Sept. distributions combined.”
At approximately $120 dollars per kit, this adds up to around $1.68 million given away in naloxone. Lauffer said taxpayers should not be concerned about there state tax dollars in regards to this project.
“The state does not spend any taxpayer money combating overdoses,” Lauffer said. “All funding received is from federal grants.”
The week-long initiative is a major part of the state’s attempt to combat the opioid crisis.
“The opioid command center, established in Jan. 2018 when Governor Wolf signed the first opioid disaster declaration, meets every week to discuss the opioid crisis,” Lauffer said. “The command center is staffed by personnel from 17 state agencies, spearheaded by the departments of health and drug and alcohol programs. “
The command center has a clear focus and has been working towards tackling the crisis on multiple fronts.
“Work to address the opioid crisis focuses on three areas: prevention, rescue and treatment,” Lauffer said. “Efforts over the past four years, working with state agencies, local, regional and federal officials, have resulted in significant action to address the opioid crisis.”
Naloxone is also available to first responders dealing with opioid overdoses, which has helped them save lives.
“[There have been] more than 25,000 doses made available and more than 4,500 saves through that program,” Lauffer said. “In addition, EMS have administered more than 25,000 doses of naloxone and more than 7,000 doses were made available to members of the public during the state’s naloxone distribution last year.”