Groups, experts praise naloxone advisory

April 10, 2018
Christine Blank
Christine Blank

After US Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH, urged more Americans to carry naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses, organizations and medical experts praised the decision.

After US Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH, urged more Americans to carry naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses, organizations and medical experts praised the decision.

“For patients currently taking high doses of opioids as prescribed for pain, individuals misusing prescription opioids, individuals using illicit opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, health care practitioners, family and friends of people who have an opioid use disorder, and community members who come into contact with people at risk for opioid overdose, knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life,” Adams said in an advisory.

Related: Are opioids better than nonopioids to improve pain?

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) thanked Adams for “a very clear and effective message: carrying naloxone can help save the life of a loved one,” said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, in a statement from NACDS. “Pharmacy’s commitment to fostering naloxone access has always been about helping to save lives, along with initiatives focused on abuse-prevention.”

Lewis Nelson, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, also praised Adams’ naloxone advisory. “While not risk-free, naloxone is easy to use and very effective if administered rapidly after an overdose. The need for rapid administration is why it has to be widely available and ready for use. This is the reason we advocate for family members, friends, first responders, police, teachers and others with the potential to find a patient with an overdose to have immediate access to the drug and know how to use it,” Nelson said in a Rutgers statement.

Related: Opioid prescription limits gain support

There are some unknowns about the overall risks and the benefits of naloxone, but most experts agree that there is a net benefit, according to Nelson. “Additional study is needed to define these, but for now the drug should be widely and easily available.”

Meanwhile, Anderson said that fostering naloxone access is one of the ways that pharmacies serve as part of the solution to the opioid abuse epidemic. Other ways include: conducting patient education about opioids; advancing drug disposal solutions to help prevent opioids from falling into the wrong hands; helping to pioneer and expand electronic prescribing to reduce fraud and abuse; implementing pharmacy compliance and security programs; collaborating to stop illegal online drug-sellers; and recommending public policy changes based on pharmacists’ experience on the front lines of care.

Read more: FDA warns about opioid-containing supplement