Opioid crisis: Top doctor urges access to overdose antidote

<p>The nation's chief doctor wants more Americans to start carrying the overdose antidote naloxone to help combat the nation's opioid crisis and save lives.</p>

News 12 Staff

Apr 5, 2018, 9:38 PM

Updated 2,263 days ago

Share:

By R.J. RICO
Associated Press
  
ATLANTA (AP) - The nation's chief doctor wants more Americans to start carrying the overdose antidote naloxone to help combat the nation's opioid crisis and save lives.
  
Speaking at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta on Thursday morning, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams issued his office's first national public health advisory in 13 years.
  
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," said Adams, who pointed out that more than half of opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. occur at home.
  
According to federal data, more than 42,000 Americans suffered fatal opioid overdoses in 2016, more than double the number who died in 2010.
  
Naloxone can restore a person's breathing after it is injected or sprayed in the nostrils, quickly bringing overdose victims back from near-death.
  
The drug, which is often referred to by the brand name Narcan, is available without a prescription in most states and is regularly used by first responders across the country. Another product, Evzio, is available with a prescription and delivers naloxone via a hand-held auto-injector.
  
Adams said 95 percent of all insured Americans are covered to purchase naloxone. First responders and community organizations can purchase Narcan nasal spray, one of the most widely available products, at group discounts of $37.50 per dose, drugmaker Adapt Pharma said in a news release.
  
Generic, injectable versions of naloxone are cheaper.
  
For those who are uninsured, Narcan can cost around $80 per dose but the antidote is often available at little or no cost through local public health programs, Adams said. The surgeon general also wants more federal funds dedicated to increasing naloxone access on local levels.
  
"Costs should not and, in the near future, will not be a barrier to accessing naloxone for anyone in America," Adams said.
  
As of July 2017, all 50 states have passed laws improving naloxone access, according to The Network for Public Health Law, a nonprofit that helps government agencies.
  
Maine's Republican Gov. Paul LePage has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the push, arguing that naloxone doesn't treat addiction and merely discourages people from seeking treatment by essentially offering a safety net if they do overdose.
  
Proponents, however, argue that greater access to naloxone doesn't draw people to illegal drug use or foster an addiction.
  
Adams said naloxone will not single-handedly solve the opioid crisis and should instead be used "in conjunction with expanded access to evidence-based treatment."
  
"There are people out there who think naloxone doesn't make a difference: you're just going to go on and misuse substances again," Adams said. "That would be like me saying I'm not going to do CPR on someone having a heart attack because if we save them, they're just going to go out there and eat fast food and be back here all over again."
  
Adams' recommendation for more people to possess naloxone comes a month after Philadelphia's health department urged residents to do the same.
  
Prior to his current role, Adams had been Indiana's health commissioner, where he promoted needle-exchange programs aimed at stemming the spread of diseases among intravenous drug users.
  
The last surgeon general public health advisory was issued in 2005 and focused on prenatal alcohol exposure.


More from News 12
1:59
Revelers enjoy Juneteenth festival and parade in Yonkers

Revelers enjoy Juneteenth festival and parade in Yonkers

2:11
Pleasant weekend in the Hudson Valley ahead of expected heat wave

Pleasant weekend in the Hudson Valley ahead of expected heat wave

1:57
Rep. Bowman, Latimer encourage voters to cast ballots early

Rep. Bowman, Latimer encourage voters to cast ballots early

0:29
Police: 2 arrested for stabbing man in New Windsor

Police: 2 arrested for stabbing man in New Windsor

0:29
Saugerties man convicted of manslaughter for fatally beating man in 2022

Saugerties man convicted of manslaughter for fatally beating man in 2022

2:04
Village of Sleepy Hollow raises Pride flag for first time despite opposition from some residents

Village of Sleepy Hollow raises Pride flag for first time despite opposition from some residents

2:04
Kevin Jonas undergoes surgery to remove common skin cancer; urges fans to get checked

Kevin Jonas undergoes surgery to remove common skin cancer; urges fans to get checked

Is your dad awesome? Hudson Valley tell us why your dad rocks!

Is your dad awesome? Hudson Valley tell us why your dad rocks!

1:39
Showing support for Ukraine in the Hudson Valley during Yonkers Ukrainian Heritage Festival

Showing support for Ukraine in the Hudson Valley during Yonkers Ukrainian Heritage Festival

0:47
Westchester Medical Center pioneers robotic procedure to help those with severe hearing loss

Westchester Medical Center pioneers robotic procedure to help those with severe hearing loss

0:29
Carmel police warn people about recent car burglaries

Carmel police warn people about recent car burglaries

0:35
Prosecutors: Former Wallkill firefighter sentenced to prison for 2021 arson incident

Prosecutors: Former Wallkill firefighter sentenced to prison for 2021 arson incident

1:47
EXCLUSIVE: News 12 uncovers police data that shows 19 children struck by vehicles in Ramapo in 6 months

EXCLUSIVE: News 12 uncovers police data that shows 19 children struck by vehicles in Ramapo in 6 months

1:28
Officials: 7 people injured, 13 families displaced in Yonkers fire

Officials: 7 people injured, 13 families displaced in Yonkers fire

0:33
Dutchess County Sheriff's Office: Connecticut man killed in Town of Dover crash

Dutchess County Sheriff's Office: Connecticut man killed in Town of Dover crash

1:03
PARENTS: Dutchess County children lost for 2 hours on nightmare bus ride home

PARENTS: Dutchess County children lost for 2 hours on nightmare bus ride home

1:35
Orange County billiard player wins national championship, first competitor from Hudson Valley to do so in 30 years

Orange County billiard player wins national championship, first competitor from Hudson Valley to do so in 30 years

0:23
Democratic Westchester DA candidate Adeel Mirza drops out of race

Democratic Westchester DA candidate Adeel Mirza drops out of race

0:46
Police: 1 killed, 2 injured in East Fishkill collision involving garbage truck

Police: 1 killed, 2 injured in East Fishkill collision involving garbage truck

2:19
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts provides summer entertainment in Katonah

Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts provides summer entertainment in Katonah