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As Overdose Deaths Climb to New Highs, New Pennsylvania Campaign Promotes Naloxone Use, Combats Stigma

As Overdose Deaths Climb to New Highs, New Pennsylvania Campaign Promotes Naloxone Use, Combats Stigma 

Ad campaign features real-life stories from people across Pennsylvania sharing their personal experiences with substance use and naloxone 

Harrisburg, PA – As the national overdose crisis climbed to new heights, more than 5,168 people died from overdose in Pennsylvania in 2021. In response, a new campaign by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, supported by public health organization Vital Strategies, is driving Pennsylvanians to lifesaving harm reduction measures including naloxone. The novel real-world testimonial approach of the ads also works to counter stigma around drug use that may keep people who use drugs from seeking support. 

“The Wolf Administration remains steadfast in the fight against opioids and the campaign is another example of that commitment,” said Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Denise Johnson. “We are working to do everything in our power to protect Pennsylvanians through awareness, education and support. By sharing real stories about real people right in our communities, we believe this media campaign will help tackle the stigma of addiction and promote the use of Naloxone to save lives.”

The campaign features stories from five people who have been affected by substance use to emphasize why everyone should get naloxone today. This Department of Health campaign will run throughout the summer and is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The $700,000 ad buy will run on TV and radio stations such as Spectrum, WQED and PAB as well as digital ads on Hulu, Centro, Pandora, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and more. The campaign is projected to have 44 million impressions. Campaign materials were developed in collaboration with Vital Strategies.  

“The overdose emergency we are experiencing in this country is largely preventable, and we know that making naloxone widely available is an effective strategy to reducing deaths,” said Daliah Heller, Director of Drug Use Initiatives at Vital Strategies. “We applaud the Department of Health for this moving ad campaign, featuring Pennsylvanians touched by this crisis, who disseminate naloxone and offer critical information, hope, and dignity for people who use drugs.” 

The campaign complements recent efforts by Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), Department of Aging and the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency to increase access to naloxone throughout Pennsylvania. These efforts include a new naloxone standing order to support the distribution of naloxone via community-based organizations and pharmacies, a mail-order naloxone program, support for co-pays around naloxone offered through PACE (Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), and a program to provide naloxone to first responders. 

For more information on Naloxone in Pennsylvania, please visit  

About Vital Strategies    
Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. In November 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a five-year, $120 million investment to help combat the overdose crisis in the hard-hit states of Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Wisconsin. The initiative builds on work of the past three years in Michigan and Pennsylvania, launched in 2018 with $50 million and expands the work to promote improved federal policies. The partnership between Vital Strategies, Pew Charitable Trusts, Johns Hopkins University, CDC Foundation, and Global Health Advocacy Incubator is helping to strengthen and scale up evidence-based, data-driven policies and interventions to reduce overdose risks and save lives.

Media Contacts   
Tony Newman; 646-335-5384 
Christina Honeysett; 914-424-3356