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Pittsburgh EMS Approved To Use Lifesaving Drug For Opioid Overdoses

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Pittsburgh's first responders are now equipped with a drug used by hospitals to treat opioid use disorder and withdrawal.

All Public Safety first responders are trained to give naloxone, or Narcan, to people who are overdosing. Buprenorphine is usually used in the hospital, but now EMS will be equipped with the drug.

The program will let Advanced Life Support EMS units give buprenorphine to patients experiencing opioid withdrawal, something that happens often after Narcan is used, even if they don't go to the hospital. Patients can then schedule a virtual follow-up to get a buprenorphine prescription and other resources.

The city is the third in the country to provide buprenorphine, the Mayor's office said.

"The opioid epidemic has deeply affected so many cities and communities. If tools like buprenorphine exist, we need to have them in our communities and with our emergency medical personnel," said Mayor Bill Peduto in a news release.

The Bureau of EMS and the Office of Community Health and Safety partnered to design the pilot program, which will run for one year.

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