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Naloxone prescriptions from pharmacies increased ten-fold

Science Spotlight

February 18, 2016

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A new scientific analysis shows prescriptions for naloxone, a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose, has increased ten-fold in the past eighteen months. Naloxone is traditionally distributed through community programs. To help address the recent dramatic numbers of overdose deaths from opioid pain relievers and heroin in the United States, there has been an increased focus on naloxone prescriptions in the outpatient setting, particularly through retail pharmacies.

Naloxone prescriptions from pharmacies increased ten-fold in the past 18 months

In 2014, more than 18,000 people died from an opioid pain reliever overdose, or nearly 50 people per day, and over 10,000 died from heroin-related overdoses, a rate that has more than quadrupled since 2002. Naloxone is currently approved by the FDA in both injection and nasal spray formulations to treat opioid overdose.

The authors found a 1,170% increase in prescriptions of naloxone dispensed from retail pharmacies in the U.S. between the fourth quarter of 2013 and the second quarter of 2015. These findings suggest prescribing naloxone in the outpatient setting can complement traditional community-based naloxone programs.

For a copy of the abstract, “Increase in Naloxone Prescriptions Dispensed in US Retail Pharmacies Since 2013,” published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, and authored by Dr. Wilson M. Compton, M.D., deputy director at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and scientists from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration, go to http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303062.

For more information about prescription drugs and heroin, go to: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/relationship-between-prescription-drug-abuse-heroin-use/introduction

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245.

NIDA Press Office

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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    NIDA. (2016, February 18). Naloxone prescriptions from pharmacies increased ten-fold. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2016/02/naloxone-prescriptions-pharmacies-increased-ten-fold

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