Health Commissioner Wen Announces Plan to Make Lifesaving Medication Available to All Baltimore Residents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BALTIMORE, MD (September 30, 2015)Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen today announced plans to issue a “standing order” for naloxone, also called Narcan, a medication that completely reverses the effect of an opioid overdose. Under a change in state law that begins October 1, doctors in the state of Maryland affiliated with local health departments are now able to issue written standing orders that allow designated individuals, such as overdose response program trainees and pharmacists, to dispense naloxone without a doctor’s prescription.

With Dr. Wen’s standing order, Baltimore City will become first jurisdiction in Maryland to expand access to the opioid antidote.

“If someone is dying of overdose, they can’t save their own life. That’s why it’s so important for every one of us to learn how to use naloxone,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “Naloxone should be part of everyone’s medicine cabinet and everyone’s First Aid kit—and now, with the standing order, it can be.”

Baltimore City’s standing order model will help to expand access to naloxone to those at-risk of experiencing an opioid overdose in Baltimore City and make it easier for people to get naloxone from their local pharmacist when they need it.

Last year, 303 people in Baltimore City died from overdose—more than the number who died from homicide. Dr. Wen has declared heroin use a public health emergency, and has led a citywide effort to expand the use of naloxone, training more than 4,000 residents this year.

“Naloxone has already prevented hundreds of deaths across Baltimore, and through this standing order, we will be able to put this lifesaving medication in the hands of thousands of Baltimoreans, added Dr. Wen. “If we don’t save live today, there is no chance for a better tomorrow.”

This order is effective upon release and does not expire until revoked.

For more information, please visit: http://health.baltimorecity.gov/NaloxoneStandingOrders

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