Pa. battles opioid overdose by giving away thousands of Narcan kits

Steve Tawa
December 13, 2018 - 5:31 pm
The contents of an overdose rescue kit are displayed in a class on overdose prevention held by non-profit Positive Health Project, holds up an overdose rescue kit after completion of the class on August 9, 2017 in New York City.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Free Narcan was the draw Thursday, in the Harrowgate section of the city, as part of a statewide initiative during “Stop Overdoses in PA: Get Help Now Week.”

At the Walgreens in the shadow of the SEPTA El stop at Kensington and Allegheny Avenues, the city Health Department's harm reduction coordinator, Allison Herens, recalled the day after she decided to start carrying Naloxone, she was put to the test.

While taking SEPTA, she saw a man across the platform was overdosing.

“Using training I had literally just gotten, and the Naloxone in my bag, I was able to save his life,” she explained.

READ: Pa. giving away free Narcan kits across the state. Here's where to get them

Across the Commonwealth during an eight-hour period, the nasal spray version of Naloxone was given out free at more than a dozen locations in Philadelphia and 80 others across the state. No ID required. Like the idiom 'dangling a carrot' in front of somebody, Herens says they hope that it will lead users into treatment and recovery.

“That man, actually two days later, had an appointment for intake and treatment,” she said.

Councilman Bobby Henon's deputy chief of staff, Emma Wagner recalled the time a constituent wandered into their Tacony district office this past summer, he was overdosing. She says they called 911, and he was rushed to the hospital and survived. She says Henon considers the crisis is a top priority.

“We've been able to train over 1,000 constituents in naloxone overdose reversal trainings,” he said.

There is a standing order, from the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, making it possible for any state resident to obtain and use naloxone without a prescription.

READ: Philly opioid conference shows how Narcan could save overdose victims