The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says distributing the opioid overdose antidote naloxone should be considered as a way to curb the increase in overdose deaths, Time reports.
The FDA announced its position at a joint news conference with the National Office on Drug Control Policy and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week, to unveil the agencies’ plan to fight prescription drug misuse.
The FDA recently held a hearing on whether to make naloxone, which is currently offered by prescription only, available over the counter.
Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, safely reverses the potentially fatal side effects of an overdose of oxycodone, heroin and other opioids. It has been routinely used by emergency rooms and ambulance crews for decades. In the past few years, Naloxone has been distributed free to opioid users and their loved ones, in a growing number of sites around the country.
A recent report by the CDC found that widely distributing Naloxone, and training people in how to use it, could save many lives.
It has successfully reversed more than 10,000 drug overdoses since 1996, according to the CDC report. Naloxone is not effective in treating drug overdoses that do not involve opioids.
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have programs to distribute naloxone in the community. The programs train people to identify signs of an overdose and provide naloxone to people who use drugs and their loved ones.