“The best we can say is not to use a lot,” said Allison Herens, the city’s harm reduction coordinator. “The chemical makeup is so unpredictable. So we say, ‘Use a little bit, see how you feel, take it with people [around you], stay hydrated.’”
By Jason Laughlin and Aubrey Whelan
Then, a surprise: In the last quarter of last year, the number treated for overdoses by EMS dropped about 50 percent from the previous quarter. That drop reflects the widespread availability of Narcan, speculates Philadelphia Health Department spokesperson Jim Garrow. Calls to 911 are falling, he tells me, because so many people are carrying and administering Narcan.
By Stu Bykofski
Kendra Viner, the public health department’s opioid surveillance program manager, said the city has been planning an overdose fatality review for the past year, but it’s been delayed by legal challenges.
By Grace Shallow
Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley told the Post that tackling overprescription is one of the city’s three prongs in confronting the opioid crisis.
In addition to developing policies that would prevent doctors from overprescribing pain medication, he said, the city’s Department of Public Health is also trying to reduce the bureaucratic hurdles that confront opioid users seeking treatment. That sticking point has become increasingly pressing with the rise of fentanyl, the short half-life of which means the window for intervention is far narrower than that of traditional opioids like heroin.
The department also hopes to make naloxone – the opioid overdose antidote – more widely available to the public, and is convening open training sessions across the city to educate members of the public on how to recognise and treat opioid overdoses.
Farley said he was not familiar with the Trump administration’s efforts to stem the production of fentanyl at its Chinese source. His department “would love to be able to reduce the supply to the streets of Philadelphia”, he said, with an important caveat: “I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.”
By Owen Churchill
“We really want to see more businesses taking on this responsibility and realizing that this is not only in the best interest of their customers, but also their staff who will have to worry about potential sticks if needles just end up in the trash,” Herens said.
Herens says it’s clearly a response to the opioid epidemic, but it also benefits others, such as diabetics, who inject themselves for health reasons.
By Pat Loeb
They were victims of two tragedies – drug overdoses and homicides – now so prevalent in Philadelphia that they’ve helped drive down life expectancy in the nation’s sixth largest city.
Premature deaths have been increasing since 2015, according to the report released this month by the Philadelphia department of public health. Life expectancy began to fall after 2014, the city says. For men, it was 72.4 in 2017, down from 73.2 in 2013. Women had a longer life expectancy at 79.7, but that number has stopped improving.
By Erin Durkin
“It is worth warning people at nightclubs who might use cocaine recreationally about the possibility of fentanyl contamination,” opioids program manager Kendra Viner of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health told BuzzFeed News. But overall, only about 2% of seized cocaine vials in Philadelphia are contaminated by fentanyl.
By Dan Vergano