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Biden-⁠Harris Administration Launches the White House Challenge to Save Lives from Overdose

Today, in support of President Biden’s Unity Agenda efforts to beat the overdose crisis, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing the White House Challenge to Save Lives from Overdose. The Challenge is a nationwide call-to-action to stakeholders across all sectors to save lives by committing to increase training on and access to lifesaving opioid overdose reversal medications.

An overdose can happen anywhere, to anyone. That’s why President Biden has worked to strengthen not only the whole-of-government response, but also the whole-of-society response to this public health and public safety crisis. Since day one, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken historic action to address the overdose crisis, including investing over $100 billion to disrupt the flow of illicit drugs and expand access to treatment. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved naloxone—a life-saving opioid overdose reversal medication—for non-prescription, over-the-counter use for the first time ever.

Today, we’re calling on organizations and businesses—big and small, public and private—across the country to help ensure all communities are ready to use this life-saving tool to reduce opioid deaths. As the drug supply has gotten more dangerous and lethal, we’re asking allies to join us because we all must do our part to keep communities safe.

To help more Americans save lives, the Biden-Harris Administration is encouraging leaders to commit to take simple measures that work, including training employees on opioid overdose reversal medications, keeping the medications in first aid kits, and distributing the medications to employees and customers so they might save a life at home, work, or in their communities.

Organizations may make a commitment here and share a story of how their efforts saved a life here. Several organizations and businesses are already stepping up across industries by taking the following actions and making the following commitments:

Air Travel

  • Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) announced in February that naloxone is available in Automated External Defibrillator (AED) cabinets at pre-security and post-security locations at O’Hare and Midway International Airports. There are 196 AED cabinets with naloxone at O’Hare and 32 at Midway. CDA has trained approximately 390 aviation security officers and airport-based Chicago Police Department officers on naloxone, and plans to offer training to more airport personnel in coming months.
  • Seventeen US-based airlines are voluntarily equipping their aircraft with opioid overdose reversal medications. For example, Southwest Airlines has naloxone in emergency medical kits aboard 65% of aircraft, with intentions to stock 100% by end-of-year, and has already saved a life. American Airlines has naloxone aboard every plane. The company trains flight attendants on the medications, where to access them, and how to administer doses guided by on-call physicians.

Entertainment

  • Insomniac Events, experience-creators behind large music festivals and live events, commits to ensuring naloxone access at all of their festivals and events nationwide in partnership with End Overdose, which provides voluntary overdose education to attendees. Together, they trained more than 100,000 festival attendees on overdose response and provided over 1.8 million with overdose resources.

Hospitality

  • Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association (OHLA) partners with state and local agencies and health departments to provide naloxone to Ohio’s hotels. Currently, 20% of hotels have naloxone onsite; OHLA’s goal is 100% adoption. OHLA also produced a naloxone training video for hotel professionals to respond to overdose, resulting in lives saved.

Labor Worksites

  • The Alliance for Naloxone Safety in the Workplace, a collaboration of 23 construction organizations nationally, is committed to providing overdose prevention education and training to construction workers. They recently released a free toolkit containing free training, organizational policy templates, comprehensive FAQs, and more.
  • Fishing Partnership Support Services, a nonprofit that works to improve the lives and livelihoods of commercial fishermen and their families, employs Community Health Workers to offer overdose training to fishermen and coastal community members in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. As a result, over 2,000 people in the East Coast fishing community carry naloxone. 
  • Massachusetts Building Trades Unions and the Building Trades Employers Association partner to distribute naloxone to contractors at construction sites. They have distributed at least 600 doses to date.
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA), and The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC) represent over 10,000 union contractors, providing employment for hundreds of thousands of skilled trade workers in the United States. These organizations, in collaboration with union partners, trained thousands of workers on substance use disorder and overdose prevention, and distributed a limited quantity of naloxone. MCAA, NECA, SMACNA, and TAUC endorse having naloxone at all construction sites and urge employers to make the lifesaving medication available to their workforce.
  • Meredith Management and John Moriarty & Associates partnered with the Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative to become Recovery Friendly Worksites, which offers onsite overdose reversal kits and training on overdose prevention to building trades employees. Just weeks after launching, a person’s life was saved at work. Now, over 1,000 tradespersons in Boston are trained to respond to an overdose and can access free naloxone.  
  • Ryan Companies, a national commercial real estate services provider, commits to distribute naloxone and provide overdose response training to its nearly 2,000 employees, as well as place naloxone in each first aid kit at over 300 construction sites and offices, in partnership with SAFE Project, a national nonprofit that has trained 10,000 people nationwide.

Schools & Other Places of Learning

  • American Library Association and the Public Library Association provide resources to public libraries to address the overdose crisis, including support for training library staff, distributing naloxone and overdose aid kits to the public, and hosting public education programs. For example, Michigan’s Lyon Township Public Library partners with Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities and South Lyon Community Coalition to provide naloxone and overdose education and training to staff and the public.
  • Arlington Public Schools’ (APS) is increasing awareness of and access to naloxone. APS trained over 2,000 staff members, most of whom now carry the medication daily, and installed naloxone boxes on every floor at all middle and high schools. APS policy now permits students, grades 9 to 12, to carry naloxone at school with parent or guardian consent; 422 high schoolers have such consent.
  • Houston Independent School District (HISD) serves 185,000 students across 274 schools. HISDPolice trains officers on naloxone, which they carry to treat any student, employee, or community member who may be experiencing overdose.
  • Los Angeles Unified School District, America’s second largest school district, has naloxone at all K-12 schools, early education centers, and adult education centers. School site and health care staff are trained on naloxone. Recently, District policy allows all students to carry naloxone at school. Since January 2023, the District has used naloxone approximately 50 times to save lives.
  • The University of Texas at Austin (UT) leads an opioid overdose prevention program that has equipped residence hall staff, campus police, and campus libraries with naloxone and overdose response training. Naloxone is also available for free and anonymously to UT Austin’s entire community. As of March 2024, UT Austin has trained 3,412 students, staff, and faculty on overdose response and distributed 2,280 naloxone doses.

State & Local Transit Systems

  • Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD)Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)New Jersey Transit Police DepartmentSan Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) train and equip officers and safety staff with naloxone so they can help people on trains and at stations. MBTA is working to make naloxone available at all Red Line Heavy Rail Stations. Collectively, these transit systems have administered over 2,000 doses of naloxone to save lives.

Expanding access to opioid overdose reversal medications is a key part of the National Drug Control Strategy, and the Biden-Harris Administration has made historic investments and taken historic action over the past three years to deliver on this priority. This includes:

  • Making naloxone available over-the-counter. For the first time ever, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved naloxone, a life-saving opioid overdose reversal medication, for non-prescription, over-the-counter purchase at grocery stores and pharmacies across the country. In addition, the FDA is making it easier for harm reduction organizations to obtain naloxone directly from manufacturers and distributors to increase the public’s access to this lifesaving medicine.
  • Delivering support to states and Tribes. The Biden-Harris Administration has invested historic amounts of funding in the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant program to make opioid overdose reversal medications available at no cost to residents of states and Tribes. Using SOR funds, states and Tribes have purchased nearly 10 million opioid overdose reversal medication kits and helped to reverse more than 600,000 overdoses. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is supporting states and Tribes with technical assistance, policy academies, and convenings to ensure SOR funds are used to help saturate hard-hit communities with opioid overdose reversal medications.
  • Increasing awareness of opioid overdose reversal medications. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), in partnership with the Ad Council, launched a social media campaign, Real Deal on Fentanyl, to reach young people with critical messaging about the dangers of fentanyl and the life-saving effect of opioid overdose reversal medications. Its Spanish-language companion site, La Realidad sobre el Fentanilo, launched in March 2024.
  • Increasing education on opioid overdose reversal medications. Last month, the Biden-Harris Administration marked two years of advancements in the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Overdose Prevention Strategy by releasing the updated Overdose Prevention and Response Toolkit. The toolkit provides updated guidance on preventing overdoses and responding to opioid- or stimulant-involved overdoses, and offers population-specific guidance to people who use drugs, people who take prescription opioids, first responders, healthcare practitioners, and other audiences. This builds on many bold actions that HHS has taken to beat the overdose crisis, including updated federal regulations for opioid treatment programs to expand access to treatment for the first time in two decades, and the announcement that HHS grant funds may now be used to purchase xylazine test strips, where permitted by law.
  • Investing in harm reduction services. Evidence-based harm reduction services, including the distribution of opioid overdose reversal medications, save lives. In President Biden’s FY2024 budget request, he calls for an additional $100 million for harm reduction services—funding that will help distribute more opioid overdose reversal medications.
  • Increasing access to life-saving medications in federal facilities. HHS and the General Services Administration (GSA) issued new guidance that encourages all federal facilities to include life-saving opioid overdose reversal medications in their safety stations for use during overdose emergencies.
  • Strengthening a whole-of-society response:
    • HHS and the  Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) called on public health departments and health care systems to work with housing providers, community development organizations, and other housing agencies to help expand access to opioid overdose reversal medications in the communities they serve. Housing providers play a critical role in ensuring that all public spaces have life-saving medications available and that more people are prepared to use the medications during emergencies.
  • The White House and the U.S. Department of Education called on schools, colleges, and universities to have opioid overdose reversal medications on-site and ensure that students and employees are prepared to use these medications to save a life on or near their campuses.

In addition to expanding access to lifesaving overdose reversal medication, the Biden-Harris Administration has also invested more funding and broken more barriers to treatment than any previous administration. The Biden-Harris Administration has not only taken historic policy actions, but also invested historic amounts of funding to help make these policy changes a reality. President Biden is investing $83 billion in treatment, which is 42% more than was made under the previous Administration.

Saving lives is the North Star of the National Drug Control Strategy, and this effort requires more than just federal resources. We must come together. In memory of those we have lost and to protect those at risk of overdose, the Administration is refocusing the Nation’s attention on the devastation caused by illicit fentanyl, reaffirming our collective commitment to beating this crisis, and doubling down on efforts to empower all Americans to save lives.

Join us at whitehouse.gov/SaveLivesFromOverdose.

March 13 2023 White House. Washington, DC. BRIEFING ROOM – STATEMENTS AND RELEASES

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