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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Credit Overdose Reversal Drug Naloxone with Saving 10,000 Lives
    Research Demonstrates Effectiveness of Community Overdose Prevention Programs

    Advocates Call for Greater Access to Naloxone

    LOS ANGELES—A new report released today in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows that more than 10,000 drug overdoses have been successfully reversed by the generic drug naloxone. The report, “Community-Based Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs Providing Naloxone,” indicates that over a period of fifteen years, just under 200 programs across the country have prevented thousands of deaths.

    “It’s extremely gratifying to see the CDC reporting what so many of us have known for so long—community-based naloxone distribution works and saves lives,” said Drug Policy Alliance Harm Reduction Coordinator Meghan Ralston.

    Naloxone hydrochloride is a generic drug (sometimes called Narcan) that helps to reverse opioid overdose when administered via injection or intranasally. Community-based programs have helped make this rescue medicine, once used only in emergency rooms and ambulances, more widely available to people at risk of overdose. It has been approved by the FDA since the early 1970s.

    "Thousands of fatal overdoses occur every year, but this report shows that we can reduce overdose deaths by giving members of the community the right information, training, and tools," said Eliza Wheeler, report author and program manager at the Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC), which runs overdose prevention programs in New York City and San Francisco. HRC led the research effort and coordinated the participation of overdose programs across the country.

    Advocates all across the country today are encouraging legislators and local officials to help increase access to naloxone at the community level by making it easier for physicians to prescribe it and to expand funding for overdose prevention programs.


    full report in Arcuives HERE


  1. catseye
    Re: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Credit Overdose Reversal Drug Naloxone w

    I read this and it actually makes me sad that we even have to have discussions about a drug as clearly beneficial as naloxone has proven to be.

    I was at a conference on Thursday and heard experiences of people whose lives had been saved by it - there is also a project in the UK video taping testimonials of those who have been revived or those who have administered it.

    In the UK it costs £1.40 for a vial of Naloxone. Between £5 - £10 for a pre packaged all inclusive kit ready to hand out.
    Yet service commissioners complain it is too expensive to roll out, too problematic.
    However, nobody wants to hear it costs approx. £26,000 to bury somebody, from coroners report to the related funerary services.

    As Danny Morris, one of the debate speakers said on the day, "If this was not about drug use we would not be having this debate"

    All this research into a drug that has been approved since the early 1970s. 10,000 is admirable of course...but imagine how many more lives could have been saved if it was just available otc as needed, to anyone who asked?
  2. talltom
    New Report Shows Overdose-Reversing Medication Saved 10,000 Lives

    It's not very often that people who work to prevent overdose deaths get excited about something truly groundbreaking. It's not often we get to point to something that could actually play a significant role in helping to end our country's rapidly escalating overdose crisis. But Thursday we did.

    Thursday, the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) concluded that expanded access to a generic drug called naloxone could play a role in helping to reduce opioid overdose fatalities. The research, led by the Harm Reduction Coalition, reveals that over the past 15 years, an estimated 10,000 opiate overdoses have been successfully reversed with naloxone by people present at the scene of an overdose.

    With all the media around the death of Whitney Houston, many people have been talking about the tragedy of accidental drug overdose and wishing for more proven, cost-effective ways to prevent it. While we won't know for a while what caused Houston's death, we do know, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that the type of drug most likely to be involved in a fatal drug overdose in the US is a prescription opioid painkiller, like oxycodone.

    Naloxone hydrochloride (also called Narcan), is a generic, relatively inexpensive rescue medication. It does one thing and one thing only: it stops an opiate overdose in its tracks and helps to restore normal breathing and consciousness. It's usually administered as an injection by a bystander trained how to use it properly, similar to the "epi-pen" many people with severe allergies carry in case of emergency. It's also sometimes administered in the form of a nasal spray. It typically works within a couple of minutes.

    Naloxone is essential at the scene of an overdose because it helps to buy time until paramedics arrive. It can revive someone who might otherwise have died while waiting those crucial minutes for the ambulance. Waiting for an ambulance may not seem like a significant factor to people who live in densely populated cities, but for people in rural communities, it can take a very long time for emergency medical help to arrive. In those situations particularly, access to naloxone can literally be the difference between life and death.

    Administering naloxone at the scene of an overdose can save lives, but calling 911 is equally crucial. Those two things ideally should always happen within minutes of each other. Several states are now encouraging people to quickly summon help without fear of arrest by passing "911 Good Samaritan" laws. These laws help to reduce the minutes that can be wasted while people worry about the small amount of drugs in their pocket or whether the police will arrest their overdosing friend for being under the influence of drugs. States like New York, Illinois, Connecticut, New Mexico and Washington have led the way by passing this lifesaving law that provides limited immunity for arrest for low-level drug law violations when 911 is called to report an overdose.

    The new report says, "Providing opioid overdose education and naloxone to persons who use drugs and to persons who might be present at an opioid overdose can help reduce opioid overdose mortality, a rapidly growing public health concern."

    That's something those of us who work to prevent overdose deaths have known for a long time. But when the CDC puts its name on something, it takes on an extra level of significance.

    CDC’s own recent data about the growing overdose crisis reveals the magnitude of the problem: In 2008, the most recent data year, more than 40,000 people died from a drug poisoning death. Nine out 10 of those deaths were due to drugs like heroin, hydrocodone and cocaine. The one type of drug involved most often in those deaths: prescription painkillers.

    This is why the new research demonstrating the efficacy of naloxone used by trained laypeople to reverse those kinds of often-fatal overdoses is so important. We have a real opportunity here--for more research, more funding for naloxone distribution programs proven to work, to help get the word out to parents whose children might be at risk for a heroin or oxycodone overdose.

    Would naloxone have saved Whitney Houston's life? Maybe not. It’s too early to say. We don’t know what drugs may have caused her death, or if anyone was with her between the times she allegedly consumed the drugs and the time she died. But naloxone has saved the lives of scores of people since it first became available in emergency rooms in the 1970s. It will quietly continue saving countless more every day in neighborhoods all across the country.

    Meghan Ralston
    February 16, 2012

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