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Heroin Overdose Reversal Drug To Be Available Across PA

Matt Rourke
AP Images
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks with members of the media earlier this month at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa.

Citing an ongoing heroin epidemic in Pennsylvania, Gov. Wolf issued a standing order to make the heroin overdose reversal drug naloxone available at all pharmacies in the state.

According to the state Department of Health, 2400 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses in 2014.

“We must do all that we can to support those Pennsylvania families suffering from the effects of addiction,” the governor said.  

Wold told Essential Pittsburgh that he previously issued measures to prevent heroin-related deaths, and said those measures were successful.

“I announced that all Pennsylvania state police cars will be equipped with naloxone kits,” Wolf said. “This has already saved lives, including out in Allegheny County.”

Wolf called on all Pennsylvania counties to do everything they can to combat heroin-related deaths.

“We do have this heroin problem, and we’ve got to address it,” he said.

In May, Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Karen Hacker issued a standing order permitting any pharmacy in the county, that wished to participate, to dispense naloxone to individuals at risk of a heroin or opioid overdose or those who might witness an overdose. The department has also made available a limited supply of intranasal naloxone at its clinic in Oakland.

Budget Veto Upheld

Pennsylvania remains without a budget 120 days after the deadline.

While the governor was issuing his standing order on naloxone, the state Senate fell short on a Republican-led attempt to override Wolf's veto of a GOP short-term spending plan.  All 19 Democrats voted to sustain the veto; all 30 Republicans voted to override.  To quash the veto, 33 votes would have been necessary.

Wolf told Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer state government must pass a budget that “actually works.”

“I understand this is different, this is a change from prior practices what I’m asking for,” Wolf said. “But I think this is what Pennsylvanians deserve.”

He said it was important to get a structurally balanced budget, as opposed to quick fixes.

“If we don’t get a balanced budget, if we don’t get one that actually adds up, next year we’re going to be facing a huge gap that is going to create much more havoc than the delay this year has caused,” Wolf said. “So I want to avoid that, I want us to get it right this year.”

A few hours before the Senate vote, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale reported that school districts in the commonwealth have borrowed $430 million to keep their doors open during the budget stalemate, and thatg figure could reach $1 billion in early December.

Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati claims the governor is refusing to put critical services first.  “Our schools and human service organizations are in critical need of funding to keep their doors open and should not be held hostage during this budget impasse."

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.