Opioid Overdose Deaths: Time for Federal Action

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imagesPrescription opioid abuse and overdose has emerged as a serious public health problem in the United States in recent decades. Drug overdose rates have been steadily increasing and is now one of leading causes of accidental death nationwide. According the CDC 44 people are dying in the United States every day from drug overdose. Naloxone is a medication that can be easily administered intramuscularly or through a nasal spray, and can rapidly reverse the effects of opioid overdose, making it widely recognized as an important tool in saving lives.

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There is widespread agreement that this is an urgent problem and many states have taken policy actions to combat the overdose problem, but there has not been a unified federal effort to date. Currently there is a bill in the house called the Stop Overdose Stat Act and a companion bill in the senate known at the Overdose Prevention Act that would support community training in naloxone administration and provide federal funding for the purchasing and distribution of naloxone.

images (1)Unfortunately, despite bipartisan support for this issue, these bills are being held up in the house’s Energy and Commerce Committee and the senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.  You can help by contacting your representatives in the responsible house and senate committees to voice your support for moving these important bills forward.

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One Response to “Opioid Overdose Deaths: Time for Federal Action”

  1. vinklablog Says:

    TImely topic! Given the current epidemic of opioid abuse, many states are not waiting for federal legislation and have authorized first responders trained in BLS (for example – firefighters and police) to administer naloxone (in the past only emergency personnel with advanced training could administer naloxone). Other innovative solutions include dispensing of naloxone at needle exchanges or to making naloxone available to users over “the counter” at the pharmacy. Indeed, Rhode Island and Massachusetts were the first 2 states to allow purchase of naloxone “over the counter”. Most recently, CVS pharmacy will be selling naloxone over the counter in an additional 12 more states as of the end of 2015.

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