Recent News

Narcan, naloxone: Baltimore makes opioid overdose-reversing drug available over the counter (Washington Times)

Citing the deadly opioid crisis, Baltimore officials made it easier on Thursday to acquire an overdose-reversing drug over the counter, saying the antidote should be as prevalent as possible to prevent more deaths.

City Health Commissioner Leana Wen waived training requirements for acquiring and using naloxone, a fast-acting medication that’s become a vital and ubiquitous tool in fighting the nation’s heroin and prescription painkiller crisis.

Dr. Wen said the training only took a few minutes — naloxone can be administered as a nasal spray or injected into the muscle, like an EpiPen. But the associated paperwork was cumbersome, so she implemented a recent state law allowing her to scrap the training altogether.

“Any resident can go into any of our pharmacies in Baltimore City and immediately get the medication for saving someone’s life,” she said.

Read the entire story.

Opioid Antidote Available Over The Counter In Baltimore (WBAL Radio)

Baltimore City residents can now get the medicine used to reverse a opioid overdose over the counter.

City Health Commissioner Leana Wen signed an order Thursday that allows Narcan or Naxolone to be made available without a prescription. Her order is part of the state's new Hope Act that eliminates the need for training before a prescription for Narcan is given out.

Dr. Wen told WBAL News Radio 1090 that 800 lives have been saved in the past two years as a result of someone, other than a paramedic, given another person Naxolone.

Read the entire story.

Baltimore Officials Make Opioid Antidote Easily Available (WJZ)

Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen signed a new standing order making an antidote that reverses the effects of opioids available over the counter.

Medicaid patients can get the medication for $1, those who can’t afford it, can get it for free. Dr. Wen said she would eventually like to see Narcan added to first aid kits.

Drug overdoses are becoming what Wen calls a “public health emergency.”

The new law ensures that everyone in Baltimore City has access to a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose.

Powerful synthetic drugs are claiming the lives of thousands of Marylanders every year.

Read the entire story.

Baltimore Officials to Make Opioid Antidote Easily Available (Associated Press/U.S. News and World Report)

Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen will sign a new standing order making an antidote that reverses the effects of opioids available over the counter.

Wen will sign the order on Thursday at 9 a.m. at Fibus Drug Store.

Read the entire story.

Opioid overdose antidote now available without training in Baltimore (Baltimore Sun)

Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City health commissioner, signed a new standing prescription for naloxone that allows residents to acquire the opioid overdose antidote without first getting trained to use the drug.

The move, which effectively makes naloxone available over-the-counter, reflects changes in state law from the Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort, or HOPE Act, recently passed by the General Assembly.

Officials said the training wasn't cumbersome but paperwork for it was inhibiting outreach workers' ability to get naloxone in the hands of more residents.

Read entire story.

Public Health Heroes: Baltimore’s Disease Detectives

In Baltimore, we have a special team of detectives working each day to save lives. They are not the usual detectives you may imagine; rather, these public health investigators make up our Acute Communicable Disease (ACD) team, a staff of 12, which examine routine and emerging infectious disease outbreaks, such as food-borne illness, rabies, meningitis, and ebola.

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Signs New Standing Order for Opioid Overdose Reversal Medication

New legislation allows residents to receive naloxone without having to complete unnecessary paperwork

BALTIMORE, MD (June 1, 2017) — Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen today signed a new standing order, which effectively makes naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal medication, available over-the-counter for Baltimore City residents.

Today, a new bipartisan law, known as the Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort or HOPE Act (SB967/HB1329), goes into effect that removes the previously-required training to receive a naloxone prescription. While the training itself is brief, the mandate created unnecessary paperwork that inhibited outreach workers’ ability to reach more residents with the life-saving medication.

Study: Supervised Injection Facility could save Baltimore $6 million (WMAR)

new study explores the cost-benefits of supervised injection facilities. Researchers estimate that providing one safe drug site in Baltimore will save the City $6 million in medical costs and potentially prevent overdose deaths.

“Safe consumption spaces are physical environments where people bring previously purchased drugs. There's no sharing, there's nothing passed between people,” said Susan Sherman, professor of health behavior and society at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Sherman is one of the authors of the report published in the Harm Reduction Journal. The study was conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, and the University of British Columbia.

Supervised injection facilities are a controversial concept being discussed in several major U.S. cities. Tackling the opioid epidemic by providing addicts with a safe space to shoot up may seem counterintuitive, but the study uses data to show the opposite.

Read the entire story.

Baltimore unveils Zika preparedness plan (WBAL)

Baltimore City officials Tuesday announced they are taking a citywide approach to combat the spread of Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses. 

The Zika virus is spread by mosquito bites or unprotected sex and is linked to serious birth defects.

“Ensuring that our city is safe from mosquitos and the diseases that they carry is dependent upon the collaboration of residents, community organizations, businesses, and city agencies,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said in a statement. “I encourage everyone to do their part to help keep our loved ones healthy.”

 Health officials said there have been 5,274 confirmed cases of Zika in the U.S., including 224 locally-transmitted cases in Florida and Texas, through April. There have been 15 cases reported in Baltimore, all of which included individuals who traveled to an area with active Zika transmission and contracted the virus there.

Read the entire story.

Trump’s budget makes it official: he’s doing little to nothing about the opioid epidemic (Vox)

Tens of thousands of people will likely die of drug overdoses under President Donald Trump’s watch, as America’s horrific opioid epidemic continues. Yet with his first big policy document — the 2018 budget proposal — Trump is proving that he’ll do little to nothing about the crisis.

If anything, Trump’s proposal could make the opioid epidemic worse. Where the budget does anything of significance regarding the epidemic, it comes through cuts to the office in charge of coordinating drug policy, Medicaid, public health programs, and more. And there is nothing in the budget to balance out the cuts — leaving a crater in the government’s response to a crisis that led to more than 33,000 opioid overdose deaths and more than 52,000 total drug overdose deaths in 2015.

 Read the entire story.