Price of Opioid Overdose Antidote Naloxone Soars

Price of Opioid Overdose Antidote Naloxone Soars
The price of naloxone is increasing at a time when the need for the opioid overdose antidote is growing, CNBC reports. Public officials say the price of naloxone is limiting how much they can purchase, which is potentially costing lives of people who are overdosing on heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers. “Why should we be priced out of a lifesaving medication at a time of public health emergency when we need it the most?” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “It’s unethical and inhumane to deny our patients and our cities lifesaving medications, and watch hundreds of thousands of citizens in our cities die.” She says her department has seen the cost of purchasing naloxone double in the last three years.
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Most Patients Taking Opioid Painkillers Willing to Get Naloxone, Too

Most Patients Taking Opioid Painkillers Willing to Get Naloxone, Too
Most patients taking opioid painkillers are willing to fill a prescription for the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, a new small study suggests. Prescribing naloxone to patients taking opioid painkillers is increasingly recommended by medical guidelines, HealthDay reports. However, currently naloxone is not routinely prescribed to patients taking opioid painkillers, the article notes. The new study included 60 patients who received opioid painkiller prescriptions and were given prescriptions for naloxone. The study found 82 percent of patients filled their naloxone prescriptions. More than one-third of patients said they improved their drug-taking behavior after receiving naloxone. Some said they improved their handling of dosing and timing of doses. Three patients used naloxone to treat an apparent overdose.
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Naloxone Critics Say Overdose Antidote Encourages Repeated Drug Use

Naloxone Critics Say Overdose Antidote Encourages Repeated Drug Use
Critics of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone say the treatment encourages repeated drug use, according to The New York Times . Many people overdose more than once, sometimes many times, and naloxone brings them back each time. Proponents of naloxone say it allows people to get into treatment. The nation’s death toll from opioids would be much higher without naloxone, the article notes. Lawmakers in every state except Kansas, Montana and Wyoming have passed legislation making the antidote easier to get. Dr. Alexander Y. Walley, an addiction medicine specialist at Boston Medical Center, told the newspaper that arguing naloxone encourages riskier drug use was like saying seatbelts encourage riskier driving.
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Co-Prescribing Naloxone In Primary Care Settings May Reduce ER Visits

Co-Prescribing Naloxone In Primary Care Settings May Reduce ER Visits
Research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that patients taking opioids for long-term chronic pain, who were given prescriptions for naloxone in a primary care setting, had 63 percent fewer opioid-related emergency department visits after one year compared to those who did not receive prescriptions for naloxone. This study presents the first large published data regarding co-prescribing naloxone for primary care patients on long-term opioid therapy for pain. Primary care providers were more likely to give naloxone prescriptions to patients on higher opioid doses and with prior opioid-related emergency department visits. The findings suggest that prescribing naloxone in primary care settings is feasible and may offer an additional benefit to reducing opioid-related adverse events. Study authors indicate they do not know how many patients filled their prescriptions, and their analyses suggests a behavioral impact of naloxone co-prescription, as patients become more aware of the hazards of...
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Routinely Prescribing Naloxone Might Prevent Some Opioid-Related Deaths

Routinely Prescribing Naloxone Might Prevent Some Opioid-Related Deaths
Routinely prescribing naloxone to certain patients who take opioid medications might reduce the number of overdose deaths, a new study suggests. The study followed almost 2,000 people who were prescribed opioid painkillers for long-term pain at San Francisco clinics, HealthDay reports. About 38 percent were also prescribed the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. Patients were more likely to receive a prescription for naloxone if they were on a higher dose of opioids, or had experienced an opioid-related emergency room visit. Patients who received a naloxone prescription had 47 percent fewer opioid-related emergency department visits per month in the six months after receiving the prescription, and 63 percent fewer visits after one year, compared with patients who did not receive naloxone. Patients who received naloxone were told when and how to use the drug, which was provided in a nasal spray device. They were also told to ensure someone else knew where...
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Overdose Antidote Naloxone Becoming Easier to Buy in Most States

Overdose Antidote Naloxone Becoming Easier to Buy in Most States
The overdose antidote naloxone is becoming easier to buy around the country, the Associated Press reports. Most states have passed laws allowing people to buy naloxone without a prescription. Drugstores and other retailers are also making it more easily available. Until recently, naloxone, sold as Narcan, was available mostly through clinics, hospitals or paramedics and other first responders. “This saves lives, doesn’t seem to have any negative impact that we can identify, therefore it should be available,” said Dr. Corey Waller of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Target and Wal-Mart have made it easier to access naloxone through their pharmacies in many states, or are planning to do so, the article notes. The grocery chain Kroger sells naloxone without requiring a prescription in a few states. Naloxone has received attention recently after news reports that Prince was rescued from an overdose of the painkiller Percocet...
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New Partnership Helps 17 States Share Information to Fight Heroin Crisis

New Partnership Helps 17 States Share Information to Fight Heroin Crisis
A new federally funded program is partnering with police departments and health departments in 17 states in the northeast and beyond to share information quickly to respond to the heroin crisis. The new initiative, known as the Heroin Response Strategy , funded by the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, has hired drug enforcement officers and public health analysts in each of those states to share information on drug trafficking and drug overdoses. “There are thousands of police departments across the country, and they all face the challenge of opioid abuse—pills, heroin, fentanyl or a combination—which together are the leading cause of preventable death,” said Chauncey Parker, Director of the New York/New Jersey HIDTA, one of the seven HIDTA programs working together in the Heroin Response Strategy. A key challenge has been the lack of a structured way for police departments to efficiently share information about drug trafficking across the...
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Program Connects People to Treatment After They Survive Opioid Overdose

Program Connects People to Treatment After They Survive Opioid Overdose
A New Jersey program immediately connects people to treatment after they have been revived from an opioid overdose with naloxone. Recovery specialists are contacted by hospitals participating in the program once an opioid overdose call has been dispatched. The Opioid Overdose Recovery Program is run by Barnabas Health in two New Jersey counties with high opioid overdose death rates, CBS News reports. The program works with law enforcement and healthcare providers, including five hospitals. Grant funding is provided by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Since the program began three months ago, there have been 135 overdoses in Ocean and Monmouth counties, of which 30 were fatal. According to the Ocean County Prosecutors Office, about half of those revived with naloxone have agreed to go into treatment this year. Previously, almost no one who was revived with naloxone agreed to go into...
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Naloxone Offered Free to High Schools Around the Country

Naloxone Offered Free to High Schools Around the Country
The opioid overdose antidote naloxone is being offered free to high schools around the country by the drugmaker Adapt Pharma, according to U.S. News & World Report . Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, quickly reverses overdoses from heroin and prescription painkillers. Naloxone will be offered in nasal spray form to high schools through state departments of education. The Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Initiative is collaborating on the project. Many states do not have rules that would permit high school staff to administer naloxone in an emergency without facing liability from parents or guardians, the article notes. There are significant variations in state and local rules about whether staff is allowed to administer medication to students. In some school districts, medication can only be administered by school nurses, who often work at more than one school. The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) in June said that “incorporating use...
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