City urging residents to carry naloxone - just in case

Opioid Hospitalizations Kids
This May 13, 2015, file photo shows the contents of a drug overdose rescue kit at a training session on how to administer naloxone, which reverses the effects of heroin and prescription painkillers, in Buffalo, N.Y.

City health officials are encouraging residents – especially those who know or work with people who use opioids – to carry the overdose-reversing drug naloxone in an effort to save lives.

The city Department of Public Health on Tuesday announced a $100,000 ad campaign that features images of a person being revived with naloxone nasal spray with the caption “Saving a Life Can Be This Easy.”

Officials said the city, since July 1, has handed out 25,000 doses of Narcan, and 7,000 people were saved by police officers, firefighters and medics last year – on top of those revived by community organizations and private citizens. But despite such efforts, they said, overdoses last year hit an unprecedented high, the highest death rate among major U.S. cities: About 1,200 people died of overdoses in the city in 2017.

“More widespread use of naloxone has the potential to save many more lives,” the department said in a news release. The campaign will emphasize how easy it is to use Narcan - which, thanks to a standing order, can be obtained at Pennsylvania pharmacies without a prescription.

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