Antidote to opioid drug overdoses could become more accessible

May 18, 2016, American Chemical Society

Over the past 15 years, deaths caused by heroin and prescription opioid overdoses have quadrupled despite the existence of a highly effective antidote. The cover story in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, explores what it might take to turn the tide.

Bethany Halford, a senior editor at C&EN, reports that naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote, first became available in an injectable form to hospitals and emergency medical personnel in the 1970s. The drug works by competing for the same receptors as heroin and opioids without turning them on and producing a high. Naloxone works quickly but must be administered within minutes to hours of an overdose to prevent brain damage and . Getting the drug to a patient, however, can be a problem. Illicit-drug users who witness an overdose might hesitate to call 911 out of fear of being arrested. Also, injecting someone via a vein or muscle can be daunting to untrained bystanders even if they already have the in hand.

To address these issues, scientists developed naloxone as an intranasal spray and an easy-to-use autoinjector. The Food and Drug Administration approved the products in 2015 and 2014, respectively. Health advocates say that users and patients taking prescription opioids for pain should have these devices immediately accessible rather than relying on paramedics. Price spikes could hinder access, but legal barriers are coming down.

Explore further: Take-home naloxone should be an additional standard of care for prevention of heroin overdose death

More information: Naloxone for all, … ol-treat-opioid.html

Related Stories

Overdose deaths in US hit record high

December 18, 2015

More people died of drug overdoses last year in the United States than ever before, largely due to disturbing increases in prescription painkillers and heroin use, health authorities said Friday.

EMCDDA publish report on antidote for heroin overdose

January 19, 2016

The first-ever substantive summary of research into take-home naloxone - a single injection that can be given by friends and family to revive someone suspected of heroin overdose - has been published today by the European ...

Recommended for you

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.

The friendly extortioner takes it all

February 15, 2019

Cooperating with other people makes many things easier. However, competition is also a characteristic aspect of our society. In their struggle for contracts and positions, people have to be more successful than their competitors ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.