Health official said there are signs the ever-rising rate opioid overdoses, which killed 47,600 Americans last year, is starting to plateau, but that they must do more.
The Health and Human Services Department said clinicians should especially prescribe naloxone to patients who take relatively high doses of opioids, take other medications that can interact poorly with opioids or have underlying medical conditions.
“Co-prescribing naloxone when a patient is considered to be at high risk of an overdose, is an essential element of our national effort to reduce overdose deaths and should be practiced widely,” said Brett P. Giroir, an admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service and HHS’s point-man on the opioids fight.
Naloxone is increasingly commonplace, with some people carrying it alongside their house keys or lip balm. They want to be ready in case they encounter an overdose victim.
It comes in various forms. There is an injectable version that medical professionals and first responders use, and there are nasal sprays and auto-injectors that are easy for everyday persons to use.
Health Secretary Alex Azar said expanding the use of naloxone is among the key pillars in the Trump administration’s response to the epidemic.
The others include preventing addiction in the first place, improving treatment and recovery services, developing better ways to manage pain and producing better data on the problem.