WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — This week the opioid reversal medication Naloxone became available over the counter nationwide. Federal health officials hope that will make a big difference when it comes to saving lives.
“One of the things that I’ve heard was ‘let that junkie die. Let that crackhead die,'” says Rosalind Picardo, founder of Operation Save Our City, who claims she has reversed more than 2,000 opioid overdoses with Naloxone, a nasal spray.
“The number one cause of death for people 18 to 49 is drug overdoses,” states Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of National Drug Policy. Dr. Gupta has also observed that people harbor stigmas about both the use of drugs and the use of overdose reversal medications, because they think it won’t impact them.
But Gupta emphasizes, “People from all communities, all socio-economic status, demographic and geographic status are being affected.”
Officials want Naloxone to be widely and easily accessible. For that reason they say they’ve stocked the Health and Human Services headquarters building with doses. And they’re encouraging other businesses and public places to also have naloxone on hand.
The nasal spray is easy to use. But at about $45 for two doses, it may still be too difficult for many to afford. Which is why HHS says it’s working with state governments to provide Naloxone to community resource centers and clinics.