Philadel­phia urges res­i­dents to carry over­dose an­ti­dote

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS -

PHILADEL­PHIA » Of­fi­cials in Philadel­phia want res­i­dents to carry and use an opi­oid over­dose an­ti­dote as part of the city’s ef­fort to com­bat sky­rock­et­ing over­doses.

The city’s health de­part­ment an­nounced a new ad cam­paign Tues­day show­cas­ing how easy nalox­one is to use and urg­ing res­i­dents to ob­tain it.

“There is noth­ing more im­por­tant or more re­ward­ing than sav­ing an­other hu­man’s life and now it is eas­ier than it has ever been to do that,” said Pub­lic Health Com­mis­sioner Dr. Thomas Far­ley.

He said he un­der­stands peo­ple might feel hes­i­tant about us­ing the an­ti­dote, but it is ac­tu­ally very sim­ple to ad­min­is­ter.

The ad shows how to use it, but the city will also of­fer live train­ing ses­sions.

Crys­tal Yates, the as­sis­tant deputy com­mis­sioner for EMS at the Philadel­phia Fire De­part­ment, said learn­ing how to use nalox­one is just as im­por­tant as learn­ing CPR.

“If a loved one uses opi­oids, car­ry­ing nalox­one can save them,” Yates said. “It’s safe, it’s ef­fec­tive and it’s easy to use.”

The city has a stand­ing or­der at all phar­ma­cies so any­one can ob­tain nalox­one with­out a pre­scrip­tion.

Philadel­phia has the high­est opi­oid death rate of any large U.S. city. More than 1,200 peo­ple fa­tally over­dosed in Philadel­phia in 2017.

John Wal­ters, long­time drug czar for Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of the Hud­son In­sti­tute, a con­ser­va­tive think tank, said get­ting the over­dose an­ti­dote to even more peo­ple, whether un­trained or semi-trained, is not a proven way of re­duc­ing the opi­oid death rate. He said what’s im­por­tant is get­ting peo­ple into ef­fec­tive treat­ment and stop­ping the flood of drugs into the U.S.

“You must stop the poi­son,” he said.

In Jan­uary, the city an­nounced it wants to es­tab­lish safe havens where peo­ple can in­ject drugs, an­other tac­tic in its bat­tle against opi­oid over­doses.

A year ago, Bal­ti­more’s health com­mis­sioner waived train­ing re­quire­ments for those seek­ing to ac­quire the over­dose-re­vers­ing drug and said any res­i­dent could go into a phar­macy and get the med­i­ca­tion.

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