The FDA has given the green light for an over-the-counter drug, Naloxone, that treats overdoses.
Opioid addictions and deaths in America have skyrocketed over the last few years due to fentanyl being mixed in with heroin so that dealers can make a few extra dollars on their sales. Heroin is an extremely deadly substance to put into your body on its own, so putting an extremely high-powered and deadly synthetic opioid is a recipe for disaster. That is exactly the scene we are seeing play out around the world. There is some good news: two Federal Drug Administration Committees unanimously voted in favor of making the opioid overdose antidote, naloxone, available over the counter and without a prescription.
This is a life-saving game changer for the massive amount of people that are dying from accidental overdoses year after year. In 2020 there were 69,000 accidental overdose deaths due to opioids and in 2021 that number grew by 17% up to 81,020. If you sit back and think that every one of those numbers equals a human being that died because of opioid addiction and that is someone’s brother, sister, mother, father, uncle, aunt, and worst of all, someone’s child.
The approval from the FDA today is a monumental decision and it is one that will save actual human lives from needlessly perishing. There is going to be a percentage of the population that’s going to stand up and say that because we are giving them access to a get-out-of-death-free card when they accidentally overdose that it will make the number of people addicted go up even higher. Opioid addiction is something that is a disease and it is silent and incurable.
The only hope any opioid addict has is that somehow they can face the truth about their disease and come to terms with the relapse symptoms that will echo through their mind with each breath they take. They build networks to help them process the unforgiving pain and navigate all the pitfalls that are right around every corner they turn. They wake up every day and make a conscious daily decision to stay clean for the rest of their lives.
According to CNN Health, Research shows that most teen overdoses happen at home, and someone there could have given an antidote in two-thirds of cases. But national data show that naloxone is given in fewer than 1 in 3 teen overdose deaths.” Opioid addicts know the risk they take every time they get high, but the disease of addiction will tell smart people it’s okay to do it one more time. At least with this medication readily available, it might give some of these people who would have died otherwise a chance to make a different choice even though more will fail at it than succeed.
Narcan has been tested extensively and is put to the test by medical personnel as they scramble to save lives with it. The main concern the FDA has and wants to be addressed before it is rolled out and make sure that the design of the user interface, including labeling, is clear enough that people of all ages can use the drug effectively without the help of an EMT or other health care provider. CNN Health quotes Dr. Bobby Mukkamala, past chair of the AMA board, saying, “Removing the prescription status of naloxone and making it available over the counter will send a powerful message that naloxone is a critical public health tool for everyone.”
These are the types of decisions that we don’t often see enough from lawmakers and public officials overseeing these bureaus, departments, and administrations. Hats off to the FDA on this one. There will be people attending the holidays with their families at the end of this year that wouldn’t have been there if this approval wasn’t given yesterday.