August 13, 2020
In this time of a global pandemic, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) is partnering with local and national harm reduction organizations to launch a new website to make it easier than ever for Philadelphians to access naloxone.
This life-saving initiative is reducing barriers to Narcan and generic naloxone access by using a brief online training and mail-based delivery service to ensure Philadelphians who are at high risk of witnessing an opioid overdose have access to the drug. This innovative model of naloxone distribution is spearheaded by Philadelphia-based SOL Collective and the national harm reduction organization NEXT Distro.
Because SOL Collective is a community-based naloxone distribution program, supplies are free and requests are filled confidentially without any contact with insurance companies. The goal of this new service is to reduce opioid overdose fatalities by ensuring open access to naloxone for people who use drugs and their friends and family members.
Billy Ray Boyer, the Outreach Coordinator for SOL Collective, says "SOL Collective is excited and honored to partner with NEXT to offer free mailed naloxone to anyone who needs it across the city of Philadelphia. This project is a vital extension of one of our core commitments in harm reduction: to meet people where they're at.”
In 2019 alone, the lives of 1,150 Philadelphians were lost to drug overdose, an average of over 3 people per day. Naloxone, commonly known as the brand name drug Narcan, is a drug that reverses an opioid overdose in progress. When a known or suspected overdose occurs, naloxone can be administered by a trained layperson to prevent opioid overdose death. Naloxone works by counteracting the effects of the opioid that was used on receptors in the brain.
Allison Herens, former Harm Reduction Manager at the Philadelphia Department of Health, says "The Philadelphia Department of Public Health began partnering with NEXT last year and is now thrilled to launch the Philly-based website, and promote it widely. This program is vital to the City, especially as access to support services for people who use drugs have declined dramatically during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. In almost every neighborhood in Philadelphia, the majority of fatal overdoses occur in private residences. This website is another way the City is taking steps to ensure that every household in which an overdose can happen has naloxone ready to give that person another chance. You may not always know or realize that people around you are using drugs, but it doesn't mean you can't be prepared."
The platform’s distribution strategy is to reach people who use drugs, their friends and family, people who don’t have insurance, and people of and others who are hesitant to take advantage of pharmacy-based naloxone access. Because the website includes a Spanish-language training and enrollment, Spanish language speakers can also request supplies using this platform. To further ensure Philadelphians feel comfortable requesting supplies, the website ensures that no private or identifying information about requestors is reported to PDPH or any other entity.
Please visit naloxoneforall.org/philly for more information and to request Narcan through the mail.