Nearly 27,000 lives have been saved as a result of Narcan kits given to friends and family to reverse opioid overdoses, found a new study published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s June 19th Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Narcan, also known as naloxone, counters the effects of prescription painkillers, heroin and other opioids.
“Overdoses are often witnessed by other drug users and family members of drug users,” lead researcher Eliza Wheeler, DOPE Project Manager at the Harm Reduction Coalition in Oakland, Calif., told HealthDay News.
From 1996 through June 2014, these groups, totaling around 600, have provided Narcan kits to more than 150,000 people, according to the researchers.
The drug is commonly used in emergency rooms to treat overdoses and is often carried by police, fire and emergency medical services. The cost is about $25 per dose.
Researchers reported that drug users had been reluctant to call emergency services for help prior to 1996, when more and more organizations began to provide the kits to lay people. The number has also increased during the past two years.
Access to nalaxone has been facilitated — in some form — in 34 states and the District of Columbia, while 26 states and D.C. have passed Good Samaritan laws that protect bystanders who call for medical assistance.
Another new report recently released—this one was on the topic of injury prevention— recommended that states should pass more laws easing access to rescue drugs like naloxone. The report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, also stated that drugs are now the leading cause of injury deaths nationwide and are behind more deaths than vehicles are in 36 states.