WILKES-BARRE, Pa., Feb. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine and Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne visited a Walgreens pharmacy in Wilkes-Barre today to demonstrate the ease with which anyone can fill prescriptions for naloxone, a life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug readily available to anyone in the commonwealth due to the standing order prescription signed by Dr. Levine.
"Individuals who use opioids to treat chronic pain, including many seniors, are at an increased risk for developing substance use disorder and suffering an overdose," said Dr. Levine. "Naloxone is an opioid overdose reversal drug that could save the life of someone you love if you have it and know how to use it. After an overdose has been reversed, the patient needs to be treated at an emergency room and then a drug treatment center for a full recovery."
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 Dr. Levine, which serves as a naloxone prescription for anyone in the general public to use. The standing order is kept on file at many pharmacies and can also be downloaded from the Department of Health website.
"Older Pennsylvanians have experienced either an accidental or planned overdose, and thankfully have had access to naloxone," said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. "As the state with the fourth largest percentage of seniors, not only is it our responsibility to do all we can to ensure that they age with dignity and safety, it's our duty to take a much closer look at how they are affected by this epidemic and provide education about this life-saving medication."
According to a recent Johns Hopkins University study, Americans 65 years of age or older make up 13 percent of the total United States population, yet they take approximately 33 percent of all prescription drugs.
The Wolf Administration holds the fight against heroin and prescription opioids as a top priority. Governor Wolf's proposed 2017-2018 budget includes $10 million to provide live-saving Naloxone to first responders and law enforcement across the state to help save lives and get people into treatment. In order to continue to battle this terrible disease, Governor Wolf has also proposed:
- Maximizing federal Cures Act funding, which includes $26.5 million in each of the next two years for Pennsylvania, to expand access to treatment services, particularly for individuals who are uninsured or underinsured;
- Expanding access to live-saving Naloxone by providing $10 million through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to first responders and law enforcement across the state; and
- Providing $3.4 million to expand specialty drug courts to expand treatment strategies that divert offenders into more meaningful treatment and recovery.
Some of the administration's other initiatives to fight the opioid epidemic include:
- Strengthening the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) so that doctors are required and able to check the system each time they prescribe opioids;
- Forming new prescribing guidelines to help doctors who provide opioid prescriptions to their patients;
- Creating the warm handoff guideline to facilitate referrals from the emergency department to substance abuse treatment;
- Establishing a new law limiting the amount of opioids that can be prescribed to a minor to seven days; and
- Designating 45 Centers of Excellence, central hubs that provide navigators to assist those with opioid use disorders with behavioral and physical health care, along with medication-assisted treatment, as needed.
If you or someone you know is suffering from the disease of addiction, call 1-800-662-HELP or visit www.pa.gov/opioids for treatment options. For more information on the fight against opioid abuse in Pennsylvania, visit the Department of Health website at www.health.pa.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
MEDIA CONTACTS: April Hutcheson, Health, 717-787-1783 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Wilburne, Aging, 717-705-3702
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health