ALLENTOWN, Pa., June 29, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine today visited Medicap Pharmacy to bring attention to the Standing Order Prescription she signed earlier this year for naloxone, the highly effective opioid antidote that has already saved more than 1,000 Pennsylvanians from death due to drug overdoses.
"It is crucial that all pharmacists and medical professionals understand that Pennsylvania's standing order means anyone can obtain this life-saving medication without an individual prescription written by a physician," said Dr. Levine. "We want to ensure that all Pennsylvanians are aware of the standing order so that naloxone can continue to save the lives of individuals who have overdosed on heroin or prescription opioid painkillers."
Last fall, as part of Governor Tom Wolf's effort to address the opioid abuse crisis in the commonwealth, Dr. Levine signed a standing order that serves as a prescription for all Pennsylvanians to access naloxone at their local pharmacies.
Naloxone rapidly reverses heroin and other opioid overdoses. In 2014, nearly 2,500 Pennsylvanians died from a drug overdose, and that number is expected to be even higher for 2015. Heroin and opioid overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in Pennsylvania, killing more individuals each year than motor vehicle accidents.
Fighting the opioid epidemic is a top priority for the Wolf Administration. Some of the administration's initiatives in the fight against heroin include: equipping the Pennsylvania State Police with naloxone so that those troopers who are first on the scene of an overdose can have another tool on-hand during these emergencies; partnering with Adapt Pharma to make Narcan available to public high schools across the state at no cost; developing the ABC-MAP prescription drug monitoring program to detect and prevent prescription fraud and abuse, which contribute to addiction; and appointing a director for the state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) Office to work to ensure that the PDMP meets its goal of assisting health care professionals in identifying patients who would benefit from treatment.
In an effort to curtail drug addiction and curb the supply of excess drugs that can be used illicitly, the Department of Health (DOH) is leading an effort to build upon the opioid prescribing guidelines already created, including specialty specific guidelines for emergency department providers, dentists, obstetricians and gynecologists, and pharmacists. These guidelines give health care providers direction for safe and effective pain relief practices, with greater emphasis on non-opioid therapies and greater caution to prevent addiction and diversion. In addition, the DOH recently joined dozens of health care organizations, medical experts, and consumer advocacy groups in signing petitions requesting changes to federal pain management requirements that are believed to foster dangerous prescribing practices.
The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs has led a statewide initiative to get naloxone into the hands of municipal police departments. To date, more than 320 municipal police departments are equipped with naloxone, and those departments have reversed more than 1,000 overdoses as a result of that effort. DDAP also has developed a "warm hand-off" policy, mandating county-level drug and alcohol administrators to create processes whereby overdose survivors are taken directly from the emergency department to a licensed drug treatment provider. In some areas of the commonwealth, early reports indicate as many as 50 percent to 70 percent of overdose survivors are getting into treatment immediately through this process. Under DDAP's leadership, Pennsylvania's Prescription Drug Take-Back Program is helping communities properly dispose of unused and unwanted prescriptions. To date, there are nearly 450 take-back boxes located at police stations across Pennsylvania. In 2015, more than 60,000 pounds of prescription drugs were taken back and destroyed.
Governor Wolf's decision to expand Medicaid eligibility in Pennsylvania under the Affordable Care Act has greatly increased access to treatment services for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.
Finally, Governor Wolf's proposed 2016-17 budget provides more than $34 million to treat more than 11,250 new individuals with substance use disorder. The Department of Human Services will provide 25 new Opioid Use Disorder Centers of Excellence for individuals with substance use disorder, providing medication-assisted treatment and appropriate wraparound services, such as cognitive-based therapies. After this first phase of implementation, there will be a push for 25 more facilities.
Visit the "Opioid Abuse" page at www.health.pa.gov to learn more about the standing order, print a copy of the standing order, and find out how to obtain naloxone.
MEDIA CONTACT: Penny Ickes, 717-787-1783
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health