The steep increase in opioid overdoses has led to soaring numbers of retail prescriptions for the overdose reversal medication naloxone, according to a new analysis from federal officials.
Authors that include National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) deputy director Wilson M. Compton, MD, found that prescriptions of naloxone from retail pharmacies increased by 1,170% between the fourth quarter of 2013 and the second quarter of 2015. A news release from NIDA states, “These findings suggest prescribing naloxone in the outpatient setting can complement traditional community-based naloxone programs.”
Nearly 30,000 people in the United States died from prescription opioid- or heroin-related overdoses in 2014. Naloxone is now available in both injectable and nasal spray formulations, and efforts to make it more available through outpatient prescribing have intensified.
The analysis was published online this week in the American Journal of Public Health.