Free overdose-reversing drug naloxone will be distributed in September across Pa.

A Narcan nasal device, which delivers naloxone, lies on a counter. (Mary Altaffer/The Associated Press)

A Narcan nasal device, which delivers naloxone, lies on a counter. (Mary Altaffer/The Associated Press)

The drug naloxone, which can save someone who is overdosing on opioids, will be available at no cost at 95 locations around Pennsylvania on Wednesday September 18 and Wednesday September 25, according to state officials.

“Naloxone has one function: to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and respiratory system to save someone’s life,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. The drug is part of the state’s plan of “prevention, rescue and treatment” for people living with or at risk for opioid use disorder.

Levine said the previous distribution day last December showed that there is a lot of public interest for people to help their loved ones with naloxone, and she expects even more demand this time.

“We expected 5,000 last time, we’re expecting up to 10,000 kits to be handed out this time,” Levine said. “So we have greater supplies.”

In 2018, more than 4,400 people died from a drug overdose, Levine said. That’s down from 2017, when closer to 5,400 died.

So far this year, reports from county coroners seem to indicated death rates similar to 2018, she said.

Naloxone also is available at most pharmacies across the state year-round, and is available to many people either for free or at a low cost, Levine said.

In Cumberland County, Brittney Webster said some people are afraid to go to the pharmacy, where they may face potential judgement from their neighbors.

“So when we have these distribution days I think that provides a lot of safety for people who are not yet ready to face the stigma,” Webster said.

Webster has been off opioids for seven years, and works helping others living with addiction. Last December, she stood in line for naloxone at the Carlisle Health Department. She later gave two doses of that naloxone to a friend whose partner was addicted.

“I gave them to her, and those doses were used, and did save his life,” Webster said. “So he is still with us.”

At the health department, Levine said first responders have used naloxone 25,000 times since 2014 to save lives. With friends and family members also carrying the drug, it’s hard to say how many lives have been saved with it.

“But we know that its availability is so important to save lives,” she said.

The health department notes, naloxone also is available at most pharmacies across the state year-round, and is available to many people either for free or at a low cost.

Locations near Harrisburg:

  • Adams County SHC, 424 E Middle St., Suite 1, Gettysburg
  • Cumberland County SHC, 431 East North St., Carlisle
  • Dauphin County SHC, 30 Kline Plaza, Harrisburg
  • Franklin County SHC, 375 Floral Ave., Suite 1, Chambersburg
  • Lebanon County SHC, 9 North 9th St, Lebanon
  • Perry County SHC, 153 Red Hill Road, Newport
  • City of York Bureau of Health, 435 West Philadelphia St., York
  • York County SHC, 1750 North George St., York

For a full list of locations around the state, click here. 

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