Early on, the Trump administration declared the opioid epidemic to be a public health emergency. From there, things got muddled with Chris Christie leading a commission and Kellyanne Conway heading up a cabinet, which has thus far finalized a plan to give some drug dealers the death penalty. However, Trump-appointed Surgeon General Jerome Adams is taking a more proactive stance by issuing his office’s first nationwide advisory in 13 years (the last one warning pregnant women to avoid alcohol during pregnancy) to combat the crisis.
Adams is urging more Americans to keep the overdose antidote naloxone on hand and learn to use it in order to save lives. The Associated Press reports a statement from Adams, who explains his reasoning:
“Be prepared. Get naloxone. Save a life … Each day we lose 115 Americans to an opioid overdose — that’s one person every 12.5 minutes. It is time to make sure more people have access to this lifesaving medication, because 77 percent of opioid overdose deaths occur outside of a medical setting and more than half occur at home.”
Naloxone, also known under the brand name Narcan, is currently available over the counter in all but a few states and arrives in injectible or nasal-spray form. It’s not 100% effective, but the antidote can block the brain’s response to opioids and restore an overdose victim’s breathing until further medical treatment is available.
The antidote is a pricey one, however, and costs over $100 if not covered by health insurance, although some retailers are offering steep discounts through public health programs. USA Today also reports that Adams is working alongside Naloxone manufacturers on a universal program for discounts or even free access to the antidote. Read more about the surgeon general’s opioid-overdose recommendations here.