The death rates from accidental overdoses from prescription opioid and heroin use in unprecedented, the need for increased access to the overdose-reversal medicine, naloxone, is great. Naloxone, if administered in a timely fashion, has the power to save countless lives.
The Health and Human Services (HHS) department said that would increase federal funding for programs that distribute naloxone to first responders and family members, USA Today reports. Includes an expanded grants program, allowing state agencies to purchase the drug.
Historically, naloxone was only administered in emergency room settings, but with the surge in overdoses over the years, there has been a greater need to equip 911 first-responders with this life saving drug. The drug can now be administered through a nasal spray, giving the family members of addicts the ability to save their loved one’s life with little training.
Prescription opioids accounted for more than a third of all overdose deaths in 2013, according to the article. Between 2012 to 2013, Heroin-related overdose deaths increased 39 percent. The increase in heroin related deaths is a direct result of people turning to a cheaper and stronger alternative over prescription medications which have become costly and more difficult to come by due to government crackdowns.
In the past, the HHS directed funding into an array of programs designed to combat the prescription drug abuse epidemic, said HHS assistant secretary for planning and evaluation, Richard Frank.
“What I think is different here, we’ve decided to put focus on a limited set of areas. We’re going to double down on the areas where the evidence suggests we can have significant impact,” said Frank. “Some states have very sophisticated systems to identifying troubling patterns. Other states are less developed,” added Frank. “We’re moving toward having best practices in all 50 states.”
ONDCP director Michael Botticelli said, “We know that naloxone is saving lives.” The HHS plan ” to increase its use will go a long way toward reducing overdose deaths, which have devastated so many families and communities across the country.”