read with great interest several letters to the Editor in the on-line edition of the New England Journal of Medicine that referenced a recent article in the publication about the rising number of prescription drug overdoses in America.  In the process, I learned something that I did not know before.

I have been writing and talking a lot lately about the explosion of pill mills, or shady pain clinics, in Central Florida, and the corresponding increase in prescription overdose deaths.  Most of the stories that I am reading, and hearing about from potential clients, involve doctors prescribing loads of powerful pain medication like Oxycontin or oxycodone, along with a medication like Xanax.

What I did not realize until reading the letters written by researchers and physicians to the New England Journal of Medicine, is that there is a drug available called naloxone, that can quickly save a person’s life if they are suffering from an opiate, or pain-killer, overdose.

In fact, Dr. Josiah Rich, and Traci Green, Ph.D., of the Brown University Medical School wrote:

  • “(W)e have seen far too many patient die prematurely of opioid overdoses.  One topic that was missing from this article:  the usefulness of providing access to naloxone to be administered by laypersons to prevent death from opiod overdose.  Several studies involving ilicit-drug users have confirmed that training laypeople to recognize and respond appropriately to an overdose situation is feasible, safe, and effective.  Thousands of lives have been saved with either intramuscular injection or intranasal spray of naloxone.
  • If it were the standard of care for physicians who prescribe long-acting opiates to also prescribe accompanying naloxone and provide access to brief training on its use, there would be far fewer overdose deaths. Improving access to prescribed naloxone is one fundamental lifesaving response within a clinician’s reach to directly address the unprecedented “flood of opioids” and “rising tide of deaths.””

It is my understanding that there is some disagreement in the medical community regarding the efficacy using naloxone in the manner described by the doctors above.  Regardless, I imagine there a plenty of surviving family members of prescription overdose victims who wish they have been provided with any instruction or opportunity to save the life of their loved one.

If you have questions about prescription drug overdose deaths, call this Orlando accident attorney at 407-644-4444.

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