August 7, 2019 10:41AM

CDC Extols the Benefits of Naloxone⁠—Time to Make it OTC

Yesterday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that while naloxone prescriptions have increased 106 percent in the last year, the increase has been spotty, and largely confined to urban areas. Columbia University epidemiologist Katherine Keyes told the Los Angeles Times that she suspects the increase in naloxone distribution is contributing to what appears to be a stabilization of the opioid‐​related overdose rate in 2018. I agree, as I have written here

Distributing the opioid overdose antidote naloxone is one harm reduction measure that has gained widespread acceptance among policy makers, despite a few naysayers who believe making naloxone available presents a moral hazard and may encourage non‐​medical drug use.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC Principal Deputy Director, told reporters she also believes naloxone contributed to the stabilization, and that naloxone needs to be more much widely distributed and employed. She told reporters,“If each person with a high‐​dose opioid prescription were offered naloxone, nearly 9 million prescriptions for naloxone could have been dispensed in 2018.”

Last year the Surgeon General issued a Public Health Advisory encouraging Americans to learn more about the drug and to consider carrying the drug with them if they or someone they know use high‐​dose opioids. 

As I have written here, a good way to help accelerate the dissemination of naloxone would be for the Food and Drug Administration to make it truly an over‐​the‐​counter drug. In the recent past, the FDA Commissioner seemed very amenable to the idea. It is time to take that next step.