Surgeon general wants opioid antidote accessible

Chief doctor urges more Americans to carry overdose antidote amid opioid crisis

US Surgeon General Wants More People To Carry An Anti-Overdose Drug

Amid an opioid crisis that is claiming tens of thousands of lives each year, the US surgeon general on Thursday urged Americans to start carrying a drug that reverses overdoses.

If someone is overdosing on an opioid, administering naloxone-also known by its brand name Narcan-will reverse the harmful drug's effects; the person will begin to breathe normally again.

Adapt has launched programs to provide free and discounted samples of NARCAN to schools and first responders.

Last year, Walgreens said it would carry a form of Narcan in all of its USA locations. Also, numerous instances have been reported where pharmacists are reluctant to prescribe the antidote, believing they are "enabling" a drug abuser.

"Each day we lose 115 Americans to an opioid overdose - that's one person every 12.5 minutes", Adams said in a statement. "Many of those prescriptions are at doses where patients are at risk".

Dr. Kelly Clark, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, said Adams' call for expanded naloxone use was "important to highlight opioid addiction as a medical condition that needs to be treated as a public health emergency". The Advisory cites research demonstrating that community-based overdose education and naloxone distribution reduces overdose deaths, and points out that first responders in most states and communities are now equipped with the drug.

"Trying to say that having naloxone available is driving people to opioid use, we already have very, very high opioid use", Kirtley said.

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

- Generic, injectable versions of naloxone are cheaper.

Being recently discharged from emergency medical care following an opioid overdose.

Around 95 percent of insured Americans are covered to buy naloxone, while the uninsured can often get it through local public health programs, with the US Surgeon general pushing for more public funds to increase access. "Knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life", he said in the advisory.

"An estimated 2.1 million people in the USA struggle with an opioid use disorder", Adams said.

Tatiana Green, 28, of Franklin Square, who stopped using drugs seven years ago, was revived by naloxone at 18 after an overdose of opiate pills and immediately returned to using drugs, she recalled Thursday when asked about Adams' recommendation.

In a statement, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone applauded Adams and cited the county's ongoing efforts to train Long Islanders in the use of naloxone.

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