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Baltimore Officials Make Opioid Antidote Easily Available

BALTIMORE (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.

"We're hitting it from every direction we possibly can. We have a state of emergency going on," Gov. Larry Hogan said earlier this year.

Specifically the opioid, fentanyl. Baltimore City has seen a 20 percent increase in the use of the drug since 2015.

"Fentanyl is many times stronger than heroin, stronger than morphine, and now that its been mixed in with heroin, people don't know they are using it, so they are overdosing and they are dying," Wen said.

The antidote will come in both a nasal spray and a Epi-Pen-like device that comes with a tutorial.

"If you are ready to use, pull off red safety guard," Wen said.

As part of the State's Hope Act, pharmacies in Baltimore City will sell naloxone or Narcan without a prescription.

"It's safe, its effective, it's easy to use. There's no side effects on someone who is not using opiods and it is not addictive," she said.

The new law also eliminates the need for training before getting a prescription.

"In an emergency, you shouldn't have to prove you have training in order to save lives."

Anyone can, and should have the ability to save a life.

Pennsylvania and Virginia already have the overdose reversal medication available over the counter.

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