In the early to mid-1990s, pharmaceutical companies created extended-release formulations of opioid painkillers and marketed them as non-addictive, even though they were – and always have been – addictive due to their inherent addicting nature as opioids. Due to several other factors, in addition to strong marketing campaigns carried out by these pharmaceutical companies that urged physicians to begin ramping up how often they prescribed opioids to patients throughout the United States, physicians across the country began prescribing opioids left and right.
In the early to mid-2010s, physicians began rolling back how often they prescribed opioids to patients. This resulted in tons of patients who legitimately needed opioids to curb their moderate to severe chronic pain issues, as well as recreational users of opioids who purchased opioid painkillers that were diverted from legitimate chronic pain patients’ opioid prescriptions, being left without enough legitimate, pharmaceutical opioids to deal with their medical and recreational needs.
This caused opioid users across the United States to turn to street heroin, an opioid that is essentially the same drug as those opioids that were overly prescribed by physicians from the mid-1990s to the mid-2010s, to curb their medical and recreational needs.
Because heroin is sold on a black market, it is not regulated. This means that opioid users have no idea how strong their heroin is. As a result, opioid overdoses have skyrocketed in the past few years. This is what’s known as the opioid epidemic.
Believe it or not, there’s a drug that is able to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. This drug is known as naloxone, which is also known as Narcan, a name-brand version of naloxone that comes in the form of a nasal spray.
Naloxone has no contraindications, meaning that it doesn’t interfere with any medications. Since naloxone is so safe, many physicians and public health experts believe that naloxone should be sold over the counter at drug stores and anywhere else drugs are sold, including Walmart, Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy, and mom-and-pop pharmacies across the nation.
Some also believe that local and state governments should readily give out naloxone, in addition to training on how to use naloxone, to reduce the rate of opioid overdoses.
According to a report published yesterday, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, naloxone should be both given out more readily and released as an over-the-counter drug to reduce the incidence of opioid overdoses.