"On July 23, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that opioid pain medication and medicine used to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) must include information about naloxone, the overdose-reversal medication, on their labels. It is recommended that as a routine part of prescribing these medicines, health care providers will discuss the availability of naloxone with patients and caregivers, both when starting and renewing treatment.
Additionally, the labeling changes recommend that health care professionals consider prescribing naloxone to patients being prescribed opioid pain medicines who are at increased risk of opioid overdose, including those who are also taking benzodiazepines or other medicines that depress the central nervous system; those who have a history of OUD; and those who have experienced a prior opioid overdose.
This order goes into effect after new data shows that U.S. drug overdose deaths reached an all-time high of approx. 70,980, in 2019, surpassing the previous peak of approx. 70,237 recorded two years earlier in 2017. Opioids were involved in 46,802 overdose deaths in 2018 (69.5% of all drug overdose deaths) and in 2019, 50,042 overdoses (70.5% of all drug overdose deaths) involved opioids.
Recently, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in overdose deaths as the unemployment rate has increased rapidly and Americans have lost access to health insurance. Many in-person health services including addiction clinics and syringe exchanges are also unavailable to many underserved populations. The fear is that the deaths from overdose will continue to increase during the pandemic.
Naloxone, often referred to by the brand name Narcan, has been used in the U.S. to reverse opioid overdoses since 1971. While it's often prescribed in an injectable form, it’s also commonly sold as a nasal spray or a mechanized auto-injector, which makes the medication easier for people without medical training to deliver." Click here to read the full news release.