As more states expand access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, some experts say more is needed to address the opioid addiction crisis, USA Today reports.
Opioids include heroin as well as prescription drugs such as oxycodone.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states and the District of Columbia have implemented a law or developed a pilot program allowing naloxone to be administered by professional or lay persons. In some states, such as Ohio, people who administer naloxone must have specific training. Other states, such as Colorado, encourage education about overdoses and naloxone, but do not have training requirements.
Eric Fulcher, an emergency room physician at Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, told the newspaper he generally supports wider access to naloxone. He is concerned, however, that new laws that expand naloxone access "totally ignore" the overall problem of addiction, and may signal an underlying acceptance of intravenous heroin use. "Politicians will feel like they've dealt with the problem," he said.
Karyn Hascal, president of The Healing Place, a Louisville recovery center, says while she supports easy access to naloxone for first responders, she worries providing the antidote to family and friends may give heroin users a false sense of security. They may think they can continue to use heroin, because loved ones will revive them with naloxone if they overdose, she said. "We've had a number of people here who have been revived several times by naloxone," which may indicate they saw it as a safety net, she noted.
Earlier this month, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland called on the company that makes naloxone to lower the price of the drug nationwide. Last month, the company, Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, agreed to offer a $6 rebate per dose to agencies in New York state.