More than 1M doses of Naloxone distributed through state program | Five for the Weekend

Since 2017, 656,568 kits (1,313,136 doses) of Narcan have been purchased and distributed statewide, according to the Shapiro administration

By: - April 29, 2023 6:30 am

Hershey, PA. The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and the Department of Health (DOH) joined the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association at Hershey Pharmacy to discuss updates to the Naloxone Standing Order and encourage pharmacies to keep a variety of naloxone formulations on hand for the public. December 12, 2022 (Commonwealth Media Service photo).

Happy weekend, all. 

A state program aimed at getting overdose reversal medicine in the hands of first responders has distributed more than 650,000 kits statewide, state officials said this week.

Since 2017, 656,568 kits (1,313,136 doses) of Narcan, a naloxone nasal spray, have been purchased and distributed statewide.

Of those, 249,024 kits (498,048 doses) of naloxone were provided over the last two years directly to organizations serving high-need communities.

“Naloxone is a proven and effective medicine that can save the life of a person who overdoses from an opioid,” Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Debra Bogen said. 

According the Shapiro administrationmore than 24,000 opioid overdose reversals that have been reported using naloxone provided by the state program.

“While naloxone is extremely effective at saving lives, we must continue to focus on a wide range of harm reduction strategies, including helping people get treatment for substance use disorders and associated health challenges,” Bogen said. 

Dr. Latika Davis-Jones, acting secretary for the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, said the Shapiro administration is committed to making naloxone readily available.

“Naloxone saves lives. That is why access to and distribution of this opioid overdose reversal medication is so critical,” Davis-Jones said.

Pennsylvania residents can purchase or use their insurance to obtain naloxone at local pharmacies without a prescription from their physician by presenting a copy of the Department of Health’s standing order.  

As always, the top five stories from this week are below.

Yolanda and Carlos prepared group meals shared with other unhoused individuals (Capital-Star photo by Frank Pizzoli).

1. At Harrisburg encampment for the unhoused, a temporary solution to a longstanding problem

It’s a calm, sunny day in April, and Aisha Mobley has parked her van along a stretch of the Capital Area Greenbelt, a 20-mile loop running through and around Harrisburg and its suburbs that overlaps with wooded areas, urban offices, residential neighborhoods, and scenic parks.

Mobley, the community mobilization and outreach coordinator for the Christian Churches United of the Tri-County Area Help Ministry, a Harrisburg-based nonprofit established in 1978 to serve those facing homelessness, poverty, or incarceration in Dauphin, Cumberland, and Perry Counties, is helping an unhoused person sort through clothes and food items packed into the back of her van.

The Pennsylvania Capitol on Monday, March 6, 2023.

2. The Pa House reconvenes on Monday; Here’s what lawmakers have on the table

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives returns to session on Monday for its first voting  day in nearly two months with a number of bipartisan legislative priorities on the table.

But one initiative that has long enjoyed strong support from both sides of the aisle could test the readiness of House Democrats and Senate Republicans to dismantle a partisan wall standing in the way of popular legislation.

The Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

3. As Tree of Life shooting trial begins, there’s new hope for changes to Pa.’s gun, hate crimes laws

In 2018, a lone gunman, armed with an assault rifle and handguns, opened fire in the Tree of Life Synagogue in the city’s leafy Squirrel Hill neighborhood. By the time the final shots echoed, 11 people, many of them elderly worshippers, were dead.

On Monday, nearly five years later, jury selection for the accused shooter’s trial will get underway in U.S. District court here. And while the killings have changed this city profoundly, the laws that could have prevented it have not.


4. Is Pennsylvania any closer to having legal weed?

Even with a Democratic majority in the state House and a governor who included legalized adult-use marijuana in his future budget projections, the commonwealth is no closer to creating a regulated recreational cannabis market.

Pennsylvania remains one of the only states in the region not to have established or be in the process of debating weed legalization. Neighboring states, including New York and New Jersey have fully established adult-use recreational markets. To the south, Delaware and Maryland’s state legislatures recently passed measures to begin regulating, licensing and taxing for cannabis sales.

Hemp Social, which has several locations in Hudson County, sells CBD and delta-8 derived products. (Sophie Nieto-Muñoz | New Jersey Monitor)
Hemp Social, which has several locations in Hudson County, sells CBD and delta-8 derived products. (Sophie Nieto-Muñoz | New Jersey Monitor)

5. In New Jersey, with cannabis stores slow to open, worries over delta-8 sales grow

In Jersey City, searching Google for “dispensary near me” will return dozens of hits — even though the only legal recreational cannabis shops within 10 miles are in Secaucus, Bloomfield, and Elizabeth.

The results include stores with neon cannabis signs in their windows and flashy packaging for edibles that don’t typically sell legal weed, but instead peddle products containing delta-8, a psychoactive chemical found in the cannabis plant that doesn’t give the same effects as the marijuana legalized in New Jersey, which is derived from delta-9.

And that’s the week. We’ll see you back here next week.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.