Opioids are a class of drugs that relieve pain. When appropriately prescribed by a doctor, opioids help the brain block the feeling of pain. Misusing opioids can cause addiction, overdose, and sometimes death.
Learn how the City of Philadelphia is combating the opioid epidemic.
Naloxone is a prescription medicine that reverses opioid overdoses. It temporarily blocks the effect of opioids and helps a person to start breathing again. The drug is also sold under the brand names Narcan and Evzio.
Naloxone quick facts
- Only works for someone on opioids
- Cannot be used to get high
- Not addictive
- Adverse side effects are rare
- Safe and easy to use
- Takes 2–5 minutes to take effect
- May require more than one dose
- Stays in the body for 30–90 minutes
- May cause withdrawal (e.g., chills, nausea, vomiting, agitation, muscle aches)
Signs of an overdose
- Slow, shallow, or no detectable breathing
- Unresponsive or unconscious
- Pale, blue, or gray lips, face, and/or nail beds
- Loud snoring or gurgling noise
- Slow or no pulse
Although naloxone is a prescription medication, Pennsylvania – like many states – has passed laws making it available as a standing order. A standing order prescription allows pharmacists in Pennsylvania to dispense naloxone without requiring an individual prescription.
Anyone can access naloxone by:
- Getting a prescription from their doctor; or
- Using the standing order written for the general public.
If you’re interested in learning more, see Pennsylvania’s Naloxone Standing Order (PDF).
Pharmacists can find more information about dispensing naloxone at the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association website.
Prevention Point Philadelphia offers naloxone based on ability to pay.
Where and when
For people who use drugs and their families:
You can request that free naloxone be mailed discreetly to your home after taking a brief online training. This mailing services includes a fentanyl test strip add on. No insurance or conditions. Visit NEXT Distro.
For the general public:
Naloxone prescriptions can be filled at most pharmacies. Although the medication may not be available for same day pickup, it can often be ordered and available within a day or two.
When you arrive at the pharmacy, be sure to:
- Have insurance card ready.
- Bring an ID.
- Ask whether the pharmacy has naloxone in stock to obtain through PA’s Standing Order.
- If yes, ask for the cost of the copay before the order is filled.
- If they do not have it in stock, request that it be ordered or ask if another location has it in stock.
- While many may have a copay for brand Narcan, other brands may be free.
- If the pharmacist declines your request, ask if they’re familiar with the standing order.
- If they are unable to fill the request or are unfamiliar with the standing order, please go to another pharmacy.
- If the pharmacist was unwilling to fill the request, please report your experience to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
Use this map to find a pharmacy near you that carries naloxone.
Attend a virtual training
You can stay at home and still help to fight Philadelphia’s opioid epidemic.
Register for a free virtual training:
- Overdose awareness and overdose reversal using naloxone
- How to use fentanyl test strips for overdose prevention
Other training options
- Request an overdose reversal training for your organization
- What is naloxone (brochure)
- ¿Qué es la naloxona? (brochure)
- Opioid safety and how to use naloxone (brochure)
- Overdose prevention videos (in English)
- Overdose prevention videos (in Spanish)
Through the ‘Good Samaritan’ provision of Act 139, friends, loved ones, and bystanders are encouraged to call 911 for emergency medical services in the event an overdose is witnessed and to stay with the individual until help arrives. The law offers certain criminal and civil protections to the caller so that they cannot get in trouble for being present, witnessing, and reporting an overdose. Learn more about Act 139.