MANCHESTER, Pa., Oct. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy today visited Northeastern High School in York County to discuss the Department of Health's efforts to provide schools with the overdose reversal medication naloxone. She also commended Northeastern High School for their drug education and awareness efforts and spoke with students and administrators about the important role the community plays in battling the opioid epidemic.
"Schools like Northeastern are essential to helping students, families, and communities make better choices and help us in the fight against this public health crisis. Having naloxone readily available in schools could help save lives," said Secretary Murphy.
Earlier this month, a total of 128 public high schools, including charter schools, intermediate units, and career and technical centers, each received two free doses of naloxone. Doses are still available for other interested school districts. Any school districts who have not yet obtained naloxone from the Department of Health, but would like to, can find more information here.
In February, the Wolf Administration partnered with Pennsylvania-based pharmaceutical company Adapt Pharma to increase statewide access to Narcan, a brand of naloxone, including distribution to schools. Pennsylvania is the first state to implement what will serve as a model partnership program for other states.
Naloxone is a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose from prescription pain medication or heroin. When administered during an overdose, naloxone blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and restores breathing within two to eight minutes. Naloxone has been used safely by medical professionals for more than 40 years and its only function is to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and respiratory system in order to prevent death.
Anyone can obtain naloxone by filling a prescription from a health care provider or by using the standing order issued by Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine. The standing order, which serves as a naloxone prescription for anyone in the general public to use, is kept on file at many pharmacies. The standing order can also be downloaded from the Department of Health website.
The Wolf Administration holds the fight against heroin and prescription opioids as a top priority. Some of the administration's other initiatives include:
- Strengthening the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) so that doctors are required and able to check the system each time they prescribe opioids;
- Better preparing doctors and physicians for prescribing opioids and pain management drugs to improve medical school and continuing education curricula on opioids;
- Limiting the number of opioids a patient can receive at emergency rooms to a seven-day supply with no refills;
- Requiring insurance companies to cover abuse deterrent opioids that make it more difficult to abuse these drugs; and
- Establishing a voluntary directive to allow patients who do not want to be prescribed opioids the ability to deny or refuse the administration of these drugs.
You may view the list of schools approved for naloxone on the department's website. For more information on how the department is fighting the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania, visit the opioid abuse page.
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health