Nasal Spray Version of Naloxone Approved to Treat Opioid Overdoses

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday approved a nasal spray version of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone (Narcan). Until now, the only approved version of naloxone was injectable, The New York Times reports.

The company that makes the spray, Adapt Pharma, said it will offer the spray at a discount to emergency workers, police and firefighters.

Naloxone is used to reverse overdoses of opioids including prescription medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine, as well as heroin. The FDA noted in a press release that if naloxone is administered quickly, it can counter the effects of an opioid overdose, usually within two minutes.

Full story of nasal spray version of Naloxone at drugfree.org

Teens Who Take Prescription Painkillers May be at Greater Risk of Future Opioid Misuse

Teens who are prescribed opioid painkillers may be at greater risk of future opioid misuse, a new study suggests. Use of painkillers in high school was associated with a 33 percent increased risk of later misuse.

The greatest risk was among teens with little or no history of drug use, and those who strongly disapproved of illegal drug use, according to HealthDay.

The study included data from more than 6,200 high school seniors, who were followed until they were 23. Lead researcher Richard Miech of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor said the finding may be explained in part by the novelty of the effects of drug use. In teens with no exposure to drugs, a prescription opioid is likely to be their first experience with an addictive substance, he said.

Full story of prescription painkiller abuse and opioid addiction at drugfree.org

The White House Tackles Opioid Addiction With New Plan

President Obama travels to West Virginia today to announce steps to curb the rise in deaths from prescription drug overdoses.  He is mandating more training of federal doctors and requiring federal health insurance plans to treat addiction, reported The New York Times.

In the Times article, a White House official stated that they had “identified prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse as critical problems.”

Previously, the Obama administration has worked to address excessive prescribing practices, being mindful that patients experiencing pain, like those suffering from cancer, can get the medicine they need.

Full story of the White House tackling opioid addiction at drugfree.org

HHS Will Revise Regulations on Prescribing Buprenorphine for Opioid Addiction

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will remove some obstacles that limit the ability of doctors to prescribe buprenorphine for patients who are addicted to heroin or prescription painkillers, The Huffington Post reports.

Under current regulations, doctors who are certified to prescribe buprenorphine (sold as Suboxone) are allowed to write prescriptions for up to 30 patients initially. After one year, they can request authorization to prescribe up to a maximum of 100 patients. The HHS will develop revisions to the regulations “to provide a balance between expanding the supply of this important treatment, encouraging the use of evidence-based [medication-assisted treatment], and minimizing the risk of drug diversion,” the department said in a press release.

In areas hard hit by opioid addiction, doctors’ buprenorphine treatment slots can fill up quickly, the article notes. One recent study found buprenorphine treatment is unavailable in U.S. counties where more than 30 million people live.

Full story of prescibing Bupreonorphine for opioid addiction at drugfree.org

Some Experts Say Naloxone Alone Isn’t Enough to Address Opioid Addiction Crisis

As more states expand access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, some experts say more is needed to address the opioid addiction crisis, USA Today reports. Opioids include heroin as well as prescription drugs such as oxycodone.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states and the District of Columbia have implemented a law or developed a pilot program allowing naloxone to be administered by professional or lay persons. In some states, such as Ohio, people who administer naloxone must have specific training. Other states, such as Colorado, encourage education about overdoses and naloxone, but do not have training requirements.

Eric Fulcher, an emergency room physician at Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, told the newspaper he generally supports wider access to naloxone. He is concerned, however, that new laws that expand naloxone access “totally ignore” the overall problem of addiction, and may signal an underlying acceptance of intravenous heroin use. “Politicians will feel like they’ve dealt with the problem,” he said.

Full story of naloxone and opioid addiction at drugfree.org