CDC study suggests Narcan be made available to at-risk patients
Opiate overdose treatment could save more lives
By Maia Szalavitz
WASHINGTON — Naloxone — the drug that safely reverses the potentially fatal effects of an opioid overdose — has successfully reversed more than 10,000 overdoses since 1996, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The data come from a survey of 48 overdose-prevention programs around the country that distribute naloxone to drug users and their friends and family.
The prescription-only antioverdose medication has long been available in hospitals and ambulances, but it wasn’t until 1996, when Dan Bigg, founder of the Chicago Recovery Alliance, suggested dispensing it directly to people at risk of overdose that naloxone became more widely available in the community.
Still, only 17 states and the District of Columbia are currently known to have naloxone-distribution programs, which train people to identify the signs of overdose and provide naloxone to drug users and their loved ones so that it can be used in time to save a life — even before an ambulance arrives.