This week, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Leana Wen signed a new standing order to allow residents to get naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug, without getting trained first.
Wen’s order addresses the Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act of 2017, which included the Overdose Prevention Act, enabling all citizens to access naloxone, which Governor Hogan signed this spring.
OSI-Baltimore has worked in partnership with the Baltimore City Health Department for more than a decade to address the public health crisis of addiction. In 2015 OSI-Baltimore grantee Behavioral Health System Baltimore (BHSB) began working with the Health Department and the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD) to train officers to administer naloxone. At the same time, Wen wrote a blanket prescription for naloxone for all Baltimore City residents; training, which is available on the web portal, dontdie.org, was required then.
Last August, OSI-Baltimore released a white paper, “Baltimore’s Response to the Overdose Epidemic: An Open Society Institute-Baltimore Brief,” including an opening letter from Dr. Wen.
Since our efforts began, more than 20,000 people have been trained to administer naloxone and more than 15,000 units of the drug have been distributed to city residents. With Wen’s new standing order, OSI-Baltimore is hopeful that the number of people with access to this life-saving drug will increase.