Opioid Overdose Antidote Could Have Prevented Many Deaths: CDC

UPDATED- Widely distributing the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, and training people in how to use it, could save many lives, suggests a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.

Naloxone safely reverses the potentially fatal side effects of an opioid overdose, Time reports. It has successfully reversed more than 10,000 drug overdoses since 1996, according to the CDC report. The article notes naloxone is not effective in treating drug overdoses that do not involve opioids.

The medication is available by prescription only under the brand name Narcan (generic version naloxone). Only 15 states* and the District of Columbia have programs to distribute naloxone in the community, the article states. The programs train people to identify signs of an overdose and provide naloxone to people who use drugs and their loved ones.

The CDC survey found that 188 programs** that distributed naloxone found the medication was given to about 53,000 people, who were trained in recognizing and treating an overdose. The programs received reports of 10,171 overdose reversals.

“To address the substantial increases in opioid-related drug overdose deaths, public health agencies could consider comprehensive measures that include teaching laypersons how to respond to overdoses and administer naloxone to those in need,” the researchers wrote.

*The update reflects 15 states, not 17 states.

**The program number of 48 was reported incorrectly and has been updated to 188.