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Professors at the Perelman School of Medicine found that patients provided with naloxone in the Emergency Room are more likely to carry naloxone in the future.

Credit: Riley Guggenhime

Perelman School of Medicine researchers found that at-risk patients provided with naloxone in the emergency department are more likely to carry naloxone in the future, Penn Today reported.

Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a drug that is capable of reversing the effects of an opioid overdose and potentially saving lives.

In a recent study, researchers Anish Agarwal, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Medical School, and Margaret Lowenstein, an assistant professor of medicine at the Medical School, used automated text messaging to survey patients who had received naloxone in the emergency room following an opioid overdose, according to JAMA Network Open.

The study found that almost 90% of respondents acquired naloxone during or after their visit, and two-thirds of them planned to continue carrying naloxone in the future, JAMA Network Open reported. Of the individuals who did not carry naloxone before their visit, more than half planned to carry it in the future.

“[S]tudies have demonstrated that laypeople can administer [naloxone] safely and effectively to reverse overdoses,” the researchers wrote. However, because many at-risk individuals end up in the emergency department, the researchers wrote that they wanted to find a way emergency department visits could educate those individuals on overdose prevention.

Out of 205 patients who were messaged, 20% of them responded to the survey, “a promising response rate for a historically difficult-to-reach population,” the researchers wrote.

According to the researchers, the study's findings suggest that emergency departments have the potential to improve naloxone carrying, and will be key in furthering education on overdose prevention within communities, the Penn Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics reported.

Since 2018, Penn’s student-run Medical Emergency Response Team has been equipped with Narcan to combat opioid overdoses on Penn’s campus. MERT also regularly provides naloxone training to interested members of the Penn community.