Monday, July 03, 2017

Baltimore Having to Ration Opioid Overdose Remedy


washingtontimes |  Citing the deadly opioid crisis, Baltimore officials made it easier on Thursday to acquire an overdose-reversing drug over the counter, saying the antidote should be as prevalent as possible to prevent more deaths.

City Health Commissioner Leana Wen waived training requirements for acquiring and using naloxone, a fast-acting medication that’s become a vital and ubiquitous tool in fighting the nation’s heroin and prescription painkiller crisis.

Dr. Wen said the training only took a few minutes — naloxone can be administered as a nasal spray or injected into the muscle, like an EpiPen. But the associated paperwork was cumbersome, so she implemented a recent state law allowing her to scrap the training altogether.

“Any resident can go into any of our pharmacies in Baltimore City and immediately get the medication for saving someone’s life,” she said.

City residents on Medicaid can acquire two doses of naloxone for $1 — it’s free if they don’t have the money — while those on private insurance typically face co-pays of $10 to $40.

Baltimore estimates that 20,000 residents use heroin and thousands more abuse prescription opioids. There were 481 fatal overdoses in the city during the first nine months of 2016, according to preliminary data, and deaths related to fentanyl have risen twentyfold in recent years, the health department said.