New York health officials on Tuesday launched a public service campaign highlighting the importance of naloxone, a medication that is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose when administered in a timely manner. 

The campaign is set to run through Aug. 30 and is being funded in part by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It will appear on social media and digital platforms, including streaming spots to emphasize the signs and symptoms of an overdose and a reminder that naloxone is safe and legal to carry. 

“The opioid overdose epidemic has had a devastating impact on far too many New Yorkers, their families and loved ones,” state Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. “Everyone should be educated in recognizing the signs of an overdose and have access to the opioid overdose reversal drug, naloxone. Naloxone, which comes in many FDA-approved brands, is available in every pharmacy in New York State and will save lives and help bring us closer to finally ending the opioid epidemic.”

Public health officials in the state have sought to expand the availability of naloxone over the last year during a rise in overdose deaths over the last three years, coinciding with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The medication is available in pharmacies in the state under an order announced last year by the state Department of Health. New Yorkers with prescription insurance coverage can obtain up to $40 in co-pay assistance through an assistance program. 

While naloxone can be effective against opioids, the emerging appearance of xylazine has alarmed public health officials. Xylazine, a non-opioid, does not respond the same way to naloxone. 

Lawmakers this year proposed expanding the availablility of test strips to determine if street drugs are laced with xylazine.