Opioid Overdoses Fuel Rise in Accidental Deaths
Opioid overdoses are fueling a sharp increase in accidental deaths in the United States, according to a new report by the National Safety Council.
A program in Philadelphia that supplies the opioid overdose antidote naloxone to people addicted to drugs, their spouses and other laypeople, and trains them in how to use it, is saving lives, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Since 2006, the program has reversed 174 potentially fatal overdoses in Philadelphia, the article notes. While the drug fatality rate in the city remains high, it has increased by less than 25 percent in the last 10 years. In contrast, in most suburban counties in the area, drug deaths have increased two, three or even five times that amount.
The Philadelphia program and a similar one in Pittsburgh are run out of needle-exchange clinics.
Widely distributing naloxone, and training people in how to use it, could save many lives, suggests a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. Naloxone has successfully reversed more than 10,000 drug overdoses nationwide since 1996, according to the CDC.
The medication is available by prescription only under the brand name Narcan. Only 15 states and the District of Columbia have programs to distribute naloxone in the community.