Should The Drug That Reverses Opioid Overdoses Become As Common As Aspirin?

"We should think of naloxone like an EpiPen or CPR."

With the opioid crisis deepening in the United States, the drug that can reverse an overdose should become a common feature of household medical cabinets, according to U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who wants naloxone (and Narcan) to become more widely owned and accessed. "We should think of naloxone like an EpiPen or CPR," he told NPR. "Unfortunately, over half of the overdoses that are occurring are occurring in homes, so we want everyone to be armed to respond."


Opioid overdose deaths increased 27.7% from 2015 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Similarly, as reported by NPR, between 2013 and 2015 there was a tenfold increase in the sale of naloxone by retail pharmacies in the U.S.

"We're working with pharmacies, providers and medical associations to increase training on how to administer naloxone in homes," Adams told the outlet. "But overall – and I'm an anesthesiologist who's administered naloxone many times myself – it's very safe, easy to use, and 49 of 50 states have standing orders for people to be able to access and to use [naloxone] in the home setting."

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams attends show for Red Dress 2018 Collection Fashion Show at Hammerstein Ballroom. lev radin /

As the demand for at-home access of the antidote continues to increase with danger posed by the opioid crisis, the cost is also going up and can range anywhere between $30 for naloxone-filled syringes to $3,700 for a two-pack of automatic naloxone injectors.

But arming more people in the home and on the street with naloxone and Narcan, a common brand of the drug, will help prevent deaths. People who work in public spaces, such as libraries, are already being trained to administer Narcan.

"We have to figure out quickly the critical steps that people have to take so we can be partners in the solution of this problem," Julie Todaro, the president of the American Library Association, told CNN last year.

Cover image via  Rachaphak / Shutterstock.

(H/T: NPR)


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