Surgeon General’s Idea For Opioid Crisis: Get Everyone To Carry Narcan

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The U.S. Surgeon General Thursday urged everyone to carry naloxone, a potent drug administered to people who overdose on opioids, to save lives during America’s current drug addiction crisis.

“You don’t have to be a policeman or a firefighter or a paramedic to save a life,” Dr. Jerome Adams said during a speech at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta.

Police officers and paramedics across the country are equipped with Narcan — the brand name for naloxone — and the drug is also available over the counter in many states.

Critics say Narcan doesn’t address the root cause of opioid addiction, and users at risk of overdosing might continue using opioids and assume Narcan will save them. First responders in Jacksonville, Fla., in 2017 found that some drug dealers would provide Narcan to people who purchased heroin, in case of an overdose.

“There are people out there who think naloxone doesn’t make a difference,” Adams said. “You’re just going to go on and misuse substances again.”

“That would be like me saying I’m not going to do CPR on someone having a heart attack because if we save them, they’re just going to go out there and eat fast food and be back here all over again,” Adams said.

The Surgeon General’s office also released a health advisory Thursday to urge citizens to carry Narcan if they are at risk.

“The call to action is to recognize if you’re at risk,” Adams said on NPR’s “Morning Edition” Thursday. “And if you or a loved one are at risk, keep within reach, know how to use naloxone.”

Amid increasing demand and a limited supply, the price of naloxone has skyrocketed. Narcan syringes used to cost around $6 a piece in 2010, now it’s closer to $30, and the two-pack naloxone spray frequently used by police is around $135.

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