WHYY – Philadelphia health officials unveiled on Tuesday an innovative way to give out the overdose-reversal drug naloxone: a vending machine.
The program, dubbed Narcan Near Me, is the first of its kind in the country. Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, has saved countless lives in the face of an increasingly lethal opioid crisis.
When injected as a nasal spray, Narcan reverses the effects of an overdose by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain. It can’t get someone high or be resold as a street drug.
“We need to make sure that people here in West Philly have free, easy access to Narcan,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole said Thursday.
She noted that the lifesaving medication is already available at pharmacies without a prescription, due to a statewide standing order.
“That doesn’t mean it’s easy to find, and it doesn’t stop the stigma from being a barrier to trying,” she said.
Officials picked the Lucien Blackwell Library on 52nd Street as the location for the first machine because they said West Philadelphia saw the greatest increase in overdoses last year.
Though neighborhoods such as Kensington had more overall overdoses, those areas have been dealing with the crisis longer, and have more access to Narcan.
That means they may be more prepared for the potency of fentanyl, which has infiltrated both the heroin supply and the supply of other drugs in recent years.
“West Philly is one of the places that has been hardest hit by the fact that fentanyl can potentially now be in any drug,” Bettigole said.
She pointed to instances in the neighborhood in which cocaine had been found to be contaminated with fentanyl … READ MORE.