CDC Vital Signs Report Details Naloxone Access, Calls for Increasing Access in Rural Areas

This month’s edition of Vital Signs from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) details access to naloxone, the life-saving medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Specifically, the report examines naloxone access from pharmacists and other healthcare providers without a prescription under a standing order. Naloxone dispensing has increased significantly in recent years, contributing to lowering deaths caused by opioid overdoses. High-dose opioid prescriptions have decreased by 21 percent from 2017 to 2018, and naloxone prescriptions have increased from 270,000 to 556,000 from 2017 to 2018. Despite these figures, the CDC indicates additional improvements need to be made in naloxone access, particularly in rural jurisdictions.

The CDC recommends a series of actions to improve naloxone access, including following the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain to consider offering naloxone to patients with high opioid dosages, keeping naloxone in stock in pharmacies, and educating patients, caregivers, and the community about the benefits of having naloxone readily available to more people. The CDC report goes on to detail state and local actions, such as reducing insurance co-pays for patients, increase providing training and education, targeting naloxone distribution in rural areas, and creating harm reduction programs and improving access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorders.

Additional information on this month’s edition of CDC’s Vital Signs is available here.