Mayoral spokesman Mike Dunn said Friday that Philadelphia does plan to follow up with pharmacies this summer to check compliance and see if more education is needed.
Philadelphia officials said a 2016 study found 40 percent of pharmacies in areas with the highest rates of heroin possession and distribution stocked naloxone, and fewer than half of surveyed pharmacists knew about the standing order. Pharmacy students also canvassed 85 pharmacies in 2017 to educate pharmacists and encourage them to stock naloxone.
Dunn said the city again checked with pharmacies early last year and found about 75 percent had naloxone in hand.
By Mark Scolforo
A new opioid response team in Philadelphia is pairing paramedics with social service case workers with the goal of getting overdose survivors into treatment.
The SAMHSA grant also allowed the departments to hire an epidemiologist, Emily Bobyock, to track and consolidate data among the various departments and measure the program’s success.
Bobyock said that initially she will look at how many contacts the unit makes, the nature of the contact (whether the unit is being flagged down, stops when it sees someone in distress, or is arriving as a secondary to a medic unit), and how many doses of Narcan are left behind, as well as outcomes such as how many people are accepting treatment and remaining there. Kenney said they will report on the initiative’s progress next month.
By Nina Feldman
Philadelphia has rolled out an emergency response team unlike any other in the nation. The new EMS unit, called AR-2, was announced Wednesday. It has a two-pronged goal: reverse overdoses and connect people to treatment services.
Currently deployed in the Kensington neighborhood, the team is a mix of paramedics, case workers and public health professionals — a model that puts the effort in uncharted territory.
By Michaela Winberg
“That 90% of people who are supportive of an overdose-prevention site, I think their voices at community meetings are really important to hear, and we have not heard them as often as we’d like,” said Philadelphia Managing Director Brian Abernathy, who is leading the Mayor’s Resilience Project and has been in conversations with Kensington residents.
By Nina Feldman
“It is encouraging to us that an overwhelming majority of Kensington residents understand that overdose prevention sites not only save lives, they also help drug users get into treatment and reduce the number of people injecting drugs on the street,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley told PWin a statement Tuesday. “When over a thousand people are dying of drug overdoses in Philadelphia each year, we need to provide these services as soon as possible. Just as syringe exchange was once controversial but is now a widely-accepted and proven way to prevent HIV/AIDS, overdose prevention sites will likewise be shown to save lives and help affected neighborhoods.”
By Courtenay Harris Bond
Kensington has been hard-hit by fatal drug overdoses during the past few years, representing the highest concentration in the city. Public health officials recently reported a modest reduction in deaths from 2017 to 2018, but acknowledged more must be done to limit the toll on the community.
By Michael Tanenbaum
According to James Garrow, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, drug deaths in which toxicology reports showed methamphetamine rose between 2015 and 2017, but remained stable in 2018.
“The number is still small,” said Garrow. “Only about six percent of drug deaths in Philadelphia last year were positive for methamphetamine — and most of these were also positive for one or more opioids.”
By Michael Rellahan
- Overdose death rates dropped in all demographic groups, except for those over 55. Deaths in that age group increased by 29 percent between 2017 and 2018. Health officials saw another age-related shift as well: in 2017, people between 35 and 44 were the most likely age group to die of a drug overdose. In 2018, people between 45 and 54 were at “the most dangerous age” for drug overdoses, health department spokesman James Garrow said.
By Aubrey Whelan
Philadelphia has made a tiny bit of progress in combating overdose deaths. The official death toll for last year was 1,116 people, which is 100 less than in 2017.
The city has mounted a three-pronged attack on overdose deaths: getting more of the overdose-reversing drug Naloxone in circulation, getting more people into treatment and getting doctors to prescribe fewer opioids.
By Pat Loeb
he Philadelphia Department of Public Health found that the number of overdose deaths in the city dropped by more than 100 in 2018, marking a decline of 8% over the previous year.
Figures released on Tuesday show that there were 1,116 overdose deaths last year, down from 1,217 in 2017. While modest, the number is encouraging compared to the 34% increase from 907 deaths in 2016 to 2017.
By Michael Tanenbaum
In Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania contacted pharmacies in zip codes with high rates of heroin possession in 2016, and found that 40 percent of the pharmacies they contacted stocked the drug, said Jim Garrow, a spokesman for the city’s health department. Pharmacy students from the University of the Sciences later launched an education campaign at dozens of local pharmacies. In early 2018, about 75 percent of the city’s pharmacies were carrying Narcan — and by the end of the year, Mayor Jim Kenney had signed a law requiring every pharmacy in the city to stock it.
By Aubrey Whelan
Allison Herens, the harm reduction coordinator for the city, said secondary traumatic stress or ways to cope with the trauma of reversing overdoses are not currently discussed in the city’s naloxone trainings, but is something the city will be investing in through resilience trainings in the future.
“I think these are really important things to be thinking about,” Herens said. “Thinking about how we could better prepare people for these incidents and how you might advise them to deal with any trauma and emotional feelings about the experience.”
“Because we recognize it can be emotional, it can be triggering, it can be hard,” she added.
By Henry Savage, Evan Easterling and Maggie Loesch