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December 15, 2015

Pennsylvania police receive $100,000 donation for Narcan

Capital BlueCross donates money for the anti-overdose drug

Capital BlueCross donated $50,000 last year to buy anti-overdose medication naloxone for police officers in Pennsylvania. This year, it's doubling that donation.

The health insurance company announced the $100,000 donation on Monday at a press conference in the state capital of Harrisburg. Naloxone, which goes under the brand name Narcan, blocks opioid receptors in the brain, potentially saving someone who has overdosed on heroin from the brink of death.

Police reversed more than 500 overdoses over the past year, according to Gary Tennis, the state's secretary of drug and alcohol programs. The money will be used for the nasal spray version of Narcan, though it's also available as an injection.

"The rise in heroin addiction and prescription drug abuse has quickly led to a public health crisis in Pennsylvania, where one in four families suffer from the effects of substance abuse addiction," said Tennis.

Heroin abuse is now widely seen as an epidemic, killing more Pennsylvanians each year than car crashes. 2,400 state residents died from opioid overdoses last year.

Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed budget would include $9 million for anti-heroin initiatives like recovery programs, drug monitoring and greater access to naloxone for police.

In addition, this October, the state's physician general signed a statewide standing order for naloxone, the equivalent of writing a prescription for every Pennsylvanian. It's also available without a prescription in New Jersey.