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

Henrietta Strickland
April 7, 2018

The US surgeon general issued an advisory Thursday recommending that more Americans carry the opioid overdose-reversing drug, naloxone.

"With over half of overdoses occurring at home and three quarters of overdoses occurring in a nonmedical setting, we know we can't rely exclusively on first responders to save lives", Adams told NBC News.

Thursday's urging was Dr Jerome Adams office's first national public health advisory in 13 years. The drug, which is commonly known as Narcan, can restore normal breathing in someone suspected of overdosing on opioids, including heroin and prescription pain medications.

Many who work with naloxone applauded the public health advisory.

Narcan can not be purchased over the counter.

Officials also vowed to make the drug easier and cheaper to access. Some pharmacies are waiving co-pays.

"I don't think we're to the epidemic as you see in some other big cities around the country, but there's been an increase in the use of it", Fitzpatrick said.

Because fentanyl is so much stronger than morphine or other painkillers, fake drug makers only need a minuscule amount to create pills with roughly the same effect as Norco or Percocet.

The U.S. Surgeon General says knowing how to use Narcan and keeping it within reach can save a life. This is why as many people as possible should carry naloxone.

In a news release, Adams said he hopes those who are at risk - as well as their friends and family members - will keep the antidote on hand and learn how to use it.

"You don't have to be a policeman or a firefighter or a paramedic to save a life", Adams said.

Several drugmakers make injectable version of naxolone.

Health officer Dr. Mark Miller said there is a concern over the cost of naloxone, but the health department is offering the drug for those who need it.

The program was down to two kits from the 565 Boulder received this past year, Noonan said, but leftover money in the state fund was used to purchase more kits, sending the county 200 more until a new shipment arrives in April or May.

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. The adoption of naloxone access laws at the state-level is associated with a nine to 11 percent decrease in opioid-related deaths, according to a national survey.

"There are some efforts that are being made, but we are not seeing the wholesale, comprehensive approach that is needed", she said. EMT's in Lowndes County already carry the drug, using it on average a few times per month. The number of opioid overdose deaths have more than doubled since 2010 from 21,000 to more tan 42,000 in 2016.

"This is not a one-time dose thing", he says.

Expanding the awareness of the availability of the medication, who can get it and how, should be a key part of the public health response to the ongoing opioid epidemic, Adams wrote in an article published in JAMA.

"It's my feeling that we should be training people on how to use naloxone at the same time and in the same way we train people to use CPR", she said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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