Programs that distribute naloxone to opiate users and their acquaintances have been successfully implemented in a number of cities around the world and have shown that non-medical personnel are able to administer naloxone to reverse opiate overdoses and save lives. Objections to distributing naloxone to non-medical personnel persist despite a lack of scientific evidence. Here we respond to some common objections to naloxone distribution and their implications.
Administering naloxone hydrochloride (naloxone) during an opioid overdose reverses the overdose and can prevent death. Although typically delivered via intramuscular or intravenous injection, naloxone may be delivered via intranasal spray device. In August 2006, the Boston Public Health Commission passed a public health regulation that authorized an opioid overdose prevention program that included intranasal naloxone education and distribution of the spray to potential bystanders. Participants were taught by trained nonmedical needle exchange staff. After 15 months, the program provided training and intranasal naloxone to 385 participants who reported 74 successful overdose reversals. Problems with intranasal naloxone were uncommon.
For more than 3 decades, naloxone has been used by emergency medical personnel to pharmacologically reverse overdoses. The peers or family members of overdose victims, however, are most often the actual first responders and are best positioned to intervene within an hour of the onset of overdose symptoms. Data from recent pilot programs demonstrate that lay persons are consistently successful in safely administering naloxone and reversing opioid overdose.
To investigate the pharmacokinetics of naloxone in healthy volunteers, we undertook an open-label crossover study in which six male volunteers received naloxone on five occasions: intravenous (0.8 mg), intramuscular (0.8 mg), intranasal (0.8 mg), intravenous (2 mg), and intranasal (2 mg). Samples were collected for 4 hours after administration for 128 samples in total. A population pharmacokinetic analysis was undertaken using NONMEM. The data were best described by a three-compartment model with first-order absorption for intramuscular and intranasal administration, between-subject variability on clearance and central volume, lean body weight on clearance, and weight on central volume. Relative bioavailability of intramuscular and intranasal naloxone was 36% and 4%, respectively.
This paper presents the findings from a summit on opioid overdose supported by the Drug Policy Alliance. The event brought together drug policy and public health experts to discuss strategies for preventing avoidable overdose by increasing access to naloxone and important basic overdose education. The authors explore the legal and policy obstacles to increasing implementation of naloxone prescription programmes in the United States and provide recommendations for increasing access to this life saving intervention.
This study assessed overdose and naloxone administration knowledge among current or former opioid abusers trained and untrained in overdose–response in the United States. Ten individuals, divided equally between those trained or not trained in overdose recognition and response, were recruited from each of six sites
During a one year period, over 1,000 participants were trained in SKOOP (Skills and Knowledge on Opiate Prevention) and received a prescription for naloxone by a medical doctor on site at a syringe exchange program (SEP) in New York City. Participants in SKOOP were over the age of 18, current participants of SEPs, and current or former drug users. We present details about program design and lessons learned during the development and implementation of SKOOP.
Naloxone, an opiate antagonist that can avert opiate overdose morality, has long been prescribed to drug users in Europe and in a few US cities. However, there has been little documented evidence of naloxone distribution programs and their feasibility in the peer reviewed literature in the US.
Heroin overdose deaths have increased alarmingly in Chicago over the past decade. Naloxone, an opioid antagonist with no abuse potential, has been used to reverse opiate overdose in emergency medical settings for decades. We describe here a program to educate opiate users in the prevention of opiate overdose and its reversal with intramuscular naloxone. Participant education and naloxone prescription are accomplished within a large comprehensive harm reduction program network.