HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 31, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Wolf Administration today announced 289 drug overdoses have been reversed statewide since Pennsylvania State Police and local police departments have begun carrying the life-saving drug kits, naloxone.
Heroin and opioid overdose are the leading cause of accidental death in Pennsylvania, killing more individuals than those involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents. In 2013, approximately 2,400 Pennsylvanians died from a drug overdose.
"Pennsylvania has been seeing a sharp increase in drug overdoses across the state. Having naloxone kits in the hands of our first responders who are often first on the scene, can make the difference between life and death," Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Gary Tennis said. "In less than a year since David's law was implemented, we are thrilled with the number of lives saved; these hailed as heroes in their communities, and deservedly so."
To date, 27 Pennsylvania counties have reported to DDAP that local police are carrying or will soon be carrying naloxone.
"Lest any police departments labor under the mistaken belief that EMS always gets there first, it is important to note that the police in Pennsylvania 'got there first' 289 times in the last nine months," Tennis said.
"Sadly we have seen the deadly consequences of drug addiction," said Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) Dr. Karen Murphy. "We applaud the heroic work of first responders who have acted with professionalism to save the lives of so many Pennsylvanians."
Earlier this year, Governor Wolf announced that Pennsylvania State Police would carry naloxone providing statewide coverage. Shortly after, DDAP and DOH announced naloxone grants, administered by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and the Pennsylvania Association of County Drug and Alcohol Administrators. These grants provided funding to supply two naloxone kits in every state police car across the state, as any local police department that applies. All the funding was generously donated by several insurance providers across the state. The Physician General signed a standing order giving law enforcement officers and firefighters the ability to access naloxone.
David's Law, also known as Act 139, enables first responders (law enforcement, fire fighters and all EMS) to administer naloxone to individuals experiencing an opioid overdose.
Friends or family members with a loved one at risk of experiencing an opioid related overdose now can also obtain a prescription from their doctor for naloxone and administer it. If statutory requirements are met, the law also provides Good Samaritan and other immunity protections from criminal prosecution for drug possession as well as from civil liability for those responding to and reporting an opioid overdose.
Naloxone, also known by the brand name "Narcan" is a prescription life-saving medicine that rapidly reverses heroin and other opioid overdoses. Heroin and opioid overdose are the leading cause of accidental death in Pennsylvania, killing more individuals than those involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents. In 2013, approximately 2,400 Pennsylvanians died from a drug overdose.
Commonly used opioids include Heroin, Oxycontin, Fentanyl, Morphine, Vicodin and Percocet.
For more information on overdose and naloxone, visit www.ddap.pa.gov.
Media contact: Carey Miller (DDAP), 717-547-3314
Amy Worden (DOH), 717-787-1783
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs; Pennsylvania Department of Health