Naloxone, commonly referred to as its brand name, NARCAN, is a medication that can reverse an overdose that is caused by an opioid drug (i.e. prescription pain medication or heroin). When administered during an overdose, naloxone blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and restores breathing within two to eight minutes. Naloxone has been used safely by medical professionals for more than 40 years and has only one function: to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and respiratory system in order to prevent death.

Family members and friends can access this medication by obtaining a prescription from their family doctor or by using the standing order (a prescription written for the general public, rather than specifically for an individual) issued by Rachel Levine, M.D., Secretary of Health. The standing order is kept on file at many pharmacies, or may be downloaded here.

Insurance companies vary in how they cover naloxone and other drugs used to treat an opioid overdose. Prior to having a naloxone prescription filled with a pharmacy, consumers are encouraged to check with their insurance carriers to find out whether naloxone is a covered benefit under their policy, and, if so, what form of naloxone is covered, and any cost-sharing amounts that may apply under their policy.

In addition to talking to your healthcare provider or the pharmacist about how to use naloxone, individuals giving this medication to someone should take the online training ahead of time.  Training is available at the Department of Health’s approved training on TRAIN PA. While it is not necessary to obtain a training certificate in order to purchase naloxone, learning these important details will help you respond properly in the event of an overdose and also meet the immunity requirements of PA Act 139.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health


Naloxone is also available to Pennsylvania residents via NEXT Distro, a free, online, mail-based naloxone distribution program.  To qualify for mail-based naloxone distribution, you will need to view a training video, answer a short quiz, and provide enrollment information. This project is not operated by or affiliated with the Cambria County Drug & Alcohol Program.  For more information, visit the project’s website by clicking here.