These Oregon counties are using the life-saving overdose drug naloxone

  • These Oregon counties are using the life-saving overdose drug naloxone

These Oregon counties are using the life-saving overdose drug naloxone

If every patient with a high-dose opioid prescription were offered naloxone (brand names Evzio and Narcan), almost 9 million more naloxone prescriptions would have been dispensed in 2018, according to the CDC's August 6 Vital Signs report. Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs and all seven Harm Reduction Centers also dispense naloxone without a prescription.

The United States is in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in its history. The latest data shows that approximately 68,000 people die from overdoses every year.

'One could only hope that this extraordinary increase in prescribing of naloxone is contributing to that stabilization or even decline of the crisis, ' said Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University drug abuse expert. As drug dealers replaced heroin with the more powerful opioid fentanyl, some experts anxious death rates would rise.

Naloxone can reverse an opioid overdose, but far too little of the lifesaving drug is used where it is needed the most, a new US government report shows.

It first went on sale in 1971 as an injection.

Through that initiative, drugstores armed 16,000 New Jerseyans with the life-saving antidote, each receiving a two-dose pack of a nasal spray version of the drug, according to the Department of Human Services, which oversaw the multi-agency effort.

Local, state and federal officials have embraced naloxone as a lifesaving measure. The Department has issued 590 standing orders, which covers more than 1,000 pharmacists working at about 450 pharmacies around the state.

CDC researchers noted there were fewer than 1,300 naloxone prescriptions dispensed in 2012, meaning the number grew more than 430-fold in six years.

"Opioid products that are laced with fentanyl require more doses of naloxone in order to overcome and to pull people out of that overdose state", Christ said.

The CDC data includes prescriptions both written by doctors for specific patients, and those filled under standing orders.

Still, it's the CDC's first close look at where most retail dispensing is happening.

Among other things, the CDC findings showed naloxone is three times more readily available in urban counties than rural ones.

The researchers found it was most common in cities, and in the South. Naloxone, of course, is the highly-effective prescription painkiller/opioid drug overdose intervention known more commonly by its brand name Narcan.

"The only way I can interpret that is that we're just saving more lives", said Dr. Ruth Potee, medical director of addiction services for Behavioral Health Network in Springfield, in Hampden County, which past year had the highest rate of opioid overdose deaths.

Virginia has a lower overdose death rate than most other states, but it allows anyone to buy naloxone without a prescription and has taken other steps to encourage its use.

The CDC report describes, "Naloxone distribution is an important component of the public health response to the opioid overdose epidemic".

The CDC study also showed both that, while opioid use has fallen significantly nationwide - from 48 million prescriptions in 2017 to 38 million previous year - there is still only one naloxone dose dispensed for every 70 high-dose opioid prescriptions. Law-enforcement and emergency-medical responders alone have administered more than 58,700 doses in the past five-and-a-half years, with its use quickly ticking up from almost 5,200 doses in 2014 to more than 16,000 last year.