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THIS WEEK

“THEY NEED TO HAVE IT ON SITE AT THE PHARMACY.”

ONLINE

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Think football and baseball are the only sports going on this time of year? We go behind the scenes with Pittsburghers who like their sports a little more extreme: from surfing the three rivers to diving out of perfectly good airplanes. More on our city’s extreme sports scene on page 16. www.pghcitypaper.com.

250 people died of heroin overdoses in Allegheny County last year, so why is it so difficult to get a drug that would save lives to the people who need it most?

#CPSteelersPreview We’ve been to training camp, and now it’s time for the season. Our CP Steelers Edition drops 9/2.

This week: Second City in this city, international performance art and a peek at burlesque. #CPWeekend podcast goes live every Thursday at www.pghcitypaper.com.

CITY PAPER

INTERACTIVE

Here’s a sweet #CPReaderArt shot of the Brassero Grill food truck in Braddock by Instagrammer @oddzenenz. Tag your photos of the city as #CPReaderArt, and we just may re-gram you! Download our free app for a chance to win Lady Antebellum tickets on Sept. 18 at First Niagara Pavilion. Contest ends Sept. 3.

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{BY JESSICA HARDIN}

W

HY ARE MODERN cars equipped with airbags? Because, unfortunately, accidents happen — not to all drivers, but certainly to many. The vehicles owned by perfect drivers have airbags. The vehicles owned by careless drivers have airbags. Airbags are not just an accessory of the irresponsible. They are widely accepted security measures for all. Many public-health advocates dream of a day when the powerful overdose-reversal drug naloxone will be perceived the same way. “It’s not you,” says Traci Green, the deputy director of the Injury Prevention Center at Boston Medical Center. “The airbags in your car are not [there] because you’re a crappy driver.” Green and other medical professionals want to shift public perception away from demonizing intravenous drug users and toward keeping them safe. In one 24-hour period this past April, Pittsburgh police responded to 10 heroin overdoses. And last year, more than 250 people died from heroin overdoses in Allegheny County.

PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER 08.26/09.02.2015

The accessibility of naloxone could reduce that number. When administered red to an individual suffering from an overdose do of heroin or other opioids, naloxone reverses the overdose. rev The drug, commercially known as Narcan, is available as a nasal spray, an inNa tramuscular injectable or an intravenous tra injectable. inj “It blocks the receptors in your brain that th opiates attach to,” says Alice Bell, the overdose-prevention program coordinaov tor at Prevention Point Pittsburgh. “If your body is dependent [on opioids], you’re bo going to feel [like you’re] in withdrawal.” go A state law, known as Act 139, that allows first responders and families and all friends of intravenous drug users to carry fri naloxone, went into effect in November na 2014. 20 And in April, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration announced that funds had been ist raised to ensure that Pennsylvania State rai Police troopers are equipped with the drug. Po While the act was a breakthrough, there are still barriers preventing naloxt th one on from getting into the hands of those who wh need it most. The cost can be prohibitive; tiv pharmacies and pharmacists are still

adapting to administering the antidote; and more training is necessary to ensure that opiate users are aware of the benefits of the medication and how to use it. These factors stand in the way of making naloxone the widely accepted airbag of intravenous drug users. FEW LEGAL barriers exist between nalox-

one and those who could benefit from its use and availability. With a prescription, an at-risk individual can acquire it. And Act 139’s “Good Samaritan” provision provides immunity from prosecution for individuals reporting overdoses. Moreover, on May 20, Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Department of Health, issued a standing order for naloxone in Allegheny County. Under this provision, individuals can acquire naloxone in the form of nasal spray at participating pharmacies without a prescription. But so far, only 14 pharmacies in Allegheny County have opted to participate. While advocates say it’s not complicated for pharmacies to distribute naloxone, they are required to take a number of steps. CONTINUES ON PG. 08

Profile for Pittsburgh City Paper

August 26, 2015  

Pittsburgh City Paper Volume 25 Issue 34

August 26, 2015  

Pittsburgh City Paper Volume 25 Issue 34