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organizations like Prevention Point, which has been providing free naloxone to intravenous drug users for more than 10 years. Prevention Point Pittsburgh is the only community organization in Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia, that engages in syringe exchange and naloxone distribution. “We’ve given naloxone to over 1,600 people and have had over 1,300 documented [overdose reversals],” says Bell. Funding such an operation is no easy feat. Two-thirds of the program’s funding comes from private donations and grant money. And currently, federal and state governments are not providing funding for naloxone. “Because [the prices have] not been consistent, it’s been one of the single most difficult things for community organizations to handle,” says Green. “We’ve had shortages in the past — it will probably happen in the future.”

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IN ADDITION to working to put naloxone

in the hands of intravenous drug users and their families and friends, public-health advocates are seeking to increase access to naloxone training. Simmons, a researcher with the nonprofit National Development and Research Institutes, in New York, responded to many states’ calls to require naloxone training by creating a short instructional course that both EMTs and laypeople can complete online. She intends to collect data from users of GetNaloxoneNow.org to evaluate its helpfulness, and says that since November the website has reached 8,000 individuals nationally. “There’s a lot of people dying from prescription overdoses, people who are using alone, who are isolated from other people who are using, and we need to reach those people. And the way to reach those people is not through the traditional channels,” Simmons says. “They’re not going to syringe exchanges. They’re not going to harm-reduction sites. They might not even be going to community agencies.” Getting opiate users trained on how naloxone can prevent overdose death is also key to making sure more people are taking advantage of the drug. And it’s important for users and their families to have the antidote before an overdose occurs, because if you have to go get it at the time of an incident, it’s too late. This information is also important for pharmacists, who have one of the best chances of engaging with drug users visiting the pharmacy to purchase syringes. Green says pharmacists should be trained to offer naloxone on a more regular basis. “Store by store, we visited pharmacies in a community to ask them to offer it to

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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