Opioid crisis: Top doctor urges access to overdose antidote
Surgeon General Jerome Adams
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 this 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.