The U.S. Surgeon General last week issued an advisory stressing that the opioid antagonist naloxone saves lives of people at risk of overdose.
The advisory also encouraged people at risk – as well as their friends and families – to talk to their physicians about obtaining naloxone and learning how to administer it.
"We have firefighters, we have EMTs, we have police officers carrying naloxone, but we can save so many more lives if we can empower the citizens, the loved ones, the family members to carry naloxone," Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, said in an interview.
Called one of medicine’s “few true antidotes,” naloxone is known for its ability to reverse an opioid overdose immediately.
Texas Medical Association policy is to advocate for legislation that reduces barriers for prescribing opioid antagonists – including naloxone – to family members and friends of patients.
In 2015, TMA backed a measure that allowed physicians to empower an opioid user, or the user’s family and friends, to administer the drug as soon as an overdose occurs. Senate Bill 1462 by Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas), which became law, allows a person to administer naloxone by injection or by intranasal spray.
TMA recently weighed in on proposed Texas Medical Board (TMB) rules for the use of opioid antagonists, suggesting broadening the guidelines for identifying people at risk of an opioid-related overdose.
“I think that we have to be open to the idea of making this medication that’s potentially life-saving more available,” said TMA President Carlos J. Cardenas, MD. “By the same token, we cannot be blind to the fact that this does not come without a certain expense, so we need to find a way to make it more affordable. We need to be sure that it gets to the individuals who can properly administer it [and] to the people who need it.”
The surgeon general’s advisory encourages prescribers to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.