Overdose Prevention Programs Using Opioid Antagonist

Naloxone use, however, not sufficient to address high overdose death rates

THURSDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, is being used by at least 188 overdose prevention programs in the United States, but many states with high death rates due to heroin or other opioid overdose do not include naloxone distribution in their programs, according to research published in the Feb. 17 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

Eliza Wheeler, M.P.A., of the Harm Reduction Coalition in Oakland, Calif., and colleagues compiled a report based on surveys regarding naloxone distribution and overdose reversal that were completed by 48 U.S. programs representing 188 local programs.

The researchers found that, since 1996, when naloxone was first distributed by a prevention program, the programs completing the survey indicated that they provided training and distributed naloxone to more than 53,000 people and reversed overdoses in 10,171. However, 19 of 25 states with higher than median drug overdose fatalities did not have a program that distributes naloxone, and 43.7 percent of programs that do distribute the agent reported difficulty in obtaining the drug.

"Providing opioid overdose education and naloxone to persons who use drugs and to persons who might be present at an opioid overdose can help reduce opioid overdose mortality, a rapidly growing public health concern," the authors write.

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