Jul 20, 2019 | Updated: 08:54 AM EDT

Naloxone Hydrochloride: An Antidote to Drug Overdose

Sep 06, 2015 09:43 PM EDT

Naloxone hydrochloride as an antidote for heroin and other drug-related overdose
(Photo : The Center of Michigan. Bridge Magazine.)

The increasing incidence of death due to drug overdose should be given a solution. Last year, in Massachusetts alone, it has killed more than 1,200 people. Studies even revealed that a heroin addict is six to twenty times more likely to die.

Naloxone, known commercially as Narcan, can reportedly revive individuals under heroin or another drug overdose like painkillers -- Vicodin and Oxycontin, thereby giving them time to rush a patient to a medical facility. This drug has been helping first-hand responders save lives and stop overdose.

Naloxone can be administered via nasal spray, syringe or autoinjector. It brings patients to "immediate wakefulness" but then some withdrawal symptoms begin. It is usually out of the system within 30 minutes. Another dose may be given and another set of withdrawal symptoms may be felt.

Its effectiveness is revealed by the report of the Center for Disease and Controls stating that there were more than 26,000 overdose reversals using Naloxone from June 1996 to June 2014.

However, with its increasing popularity, the price doubled or even more. "We saw Narcan priced as high as 66%, 70% at times throughout the state," revealed Atty. Gen. Maura Healey from Massachusetts. The manufacturer Amphastar Pharmaceuticals will give $325,000 that will go to a trust fund. This fund, according to Healey, will "allow cities and towns to buy Narcan directly from the Department of Public Health and get the best possible price."

With the estimated 11,000 Narcan used last year, they now aim to "make available the equivalent of 15,000 doses every fire department and police department in the state at a sharply reduced rate."

On the other hand, the state of Michigan also requires emergency responders to bring Naloxone all the time in 2016 and permit family and relatives to buy the drug without a prescription. This is a bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder to help combat deaths due to a drug overdose.

But legalization process is a bit difficult as it entails debate on moral issues. For instance, in Maine, the Paul LePage, the state's governor, stands that making Naloxone widely available would only encourage addicts to continue.

This garnered some negative feedbacks from advocates. Linda Davis, a district court judge in Macomb County said, "we would never treat someone with a serious disease the way we treat people in (drug) recovery."

Nonetheless, a recovering addict from Ohio said that Naloxone rather than encouraging him to use drugs, it saved his life. "I was never using with the intent to keep a naloxone shot around so I can get really high."

He is in favor of making Naloxone widely available. "How many addicts are waiting to be saved by a naloxone shot and go on to...use all that will power and brain power for something good? To me, it's common sense," said a revived addict now taking a business course to take over their family own restaurant.

As the fatalities of drug-related problems increase, a quick-acting drug like Naloxone is indeed needed.

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