Published: Fri, April 06, 2018
Medical | By

Top doctor urges wider access to overdose antidote

Top doctor urges wider access to overdose antidote

"To stop the opioid epidemic, we must stop the bleeding", Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Thursday.

Many first responders and medical professionals already carry naloxone, which is often sold under the brand name Narcan and can be administered as a nasal spray or an injection after a drug overdose.

On Thursday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued an advisory that encouraged more people to routinely carry naloxone.

Unfortunately, because of the stigma that has developed in association with opioid use, many opioid patients are reluctant to speak to the pharmacist and request a naloxone prescription.

The advisory comes as the US continues to see a rise in cases of opioid addiction and overdose deaths, with that class of drugs being the most deadly in the country, according to recent statistics from the U.S.

More than 42,000 Americans suffered fatal opioid overdoses in 2016, his statement said. And naloxone, which comes as a nasal spray or auto-injector, is meant to keep more people alive.

The HHS sees an expansion of naloxone as key to responding to the opioid crisis, along with effective prevention, treatment and recovery programs.

The nation's chief doctor says he is committed to increasing access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone and bringing down the cost of the drug.

Many local public health organizations or community groups dedicated to treating drug addiction offer naloxone free of charge.

Pharmacy giant Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., which stocks Narcan in its more than 8,000 locations nationwide, also supported the advisory. But if you have a substance use disorder, we're going to give you an option to get treatment, and hopefully become a productive member of society again. For patients now taking high doses of opioids as prescribed for pain, individuals misusing prescription opioids, individuals using illicit opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, health care practitioners, family and friends of people who have an opioid use disorder, and community members who come into contact with people at risk for opioid overdose, knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life. Most people don't think they need naloxone as overdosing can be abstract.

Adams said his office has been working with Evzio "to help improve broad and affordable access" and that Adapt Pharma, the manufacture for Narcan, is partnering with retail pharmacies and health plans to also expand access. "People say it enables [drug] use, but the only thing it enables is breathing". From an economic point of view, unfortunately, there are so many people who need naloxone that drug companies are going to make their money one way or the other.

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