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Pennsylvania bill would let EMS workers leave overdose-reversing drugs at the scene

Two naloxone inhalers.
Mary Altaffer

In rural York County, EMS workers have to make the long journey through farmland to reach overdose patients — and they’re often visiting the same address multiple times. The patient can overdose again, or someone else in the house can.

EMS workers used to leave doses of Naloxone, an overdose-reversing drug, with these at-risk patients until several years ago, when they were told they weren’t allowed to.

In response to EMS concerns, State Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) introduced SB-81, a bill that would allow responders to leave extra doses of Naloxone with the on-site caregiver in the event of another overdose.

She said the increased prevalence of fentanyl-laced drugs has worsened the drug issue throughout the country. Fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased by 279% between 2016 and 2021, according to the CDC.

The FDA approved Narcan as an over-the-counter medication, effective late this summer, but Phillips-Hill said Pennsylvanians need accessible overdose-reversing drugs before then. Naloxone, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, can “avert 21 percent of opioid overdose deaths.”

For Phillips-Hill, the answer is clear — increased access to Naloxone will save lives.

“We know that it will make a positive impact not only for those people who are on the front lines taking care of all of us everyday, but for our family members, our friends, our community members as well,” Phillips-Hill said.

SB-81 passed unanimously in the divided state Senate and will now move to the House. Phillips-Hill said she’s hopeful the “common-sense” legislation will become law.

Read more from our partners, WITF.