US surgeon general wants opioid antidote accessibility increased

Posted: Updated:
WAYNE -

The nation's chief doctor says he is committed to increasing access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone and bringing down the cost of the drug.

Speaking at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta Thursday morning, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams called on more Americans to carry naloxone, which is available over the counter in most states.

Adams says 95 percent of all insured Americans are covered to purchase naloxone, which can cost around $80 for one dose. For those who are uninsured, he says the antidote is available at little or no cost through local public health programs. He also wants more federal funds dedicated to increasing naloxone access.

Recently released data shows that there were more than 2,200 overdose deaths in New Jersey in 2016.

Wayne police say that in the two years since they began carrying Narcan, they have made roughly 40 overdose saves with it.

"You see the struggles that the families are going through and it really divides the entire family and brings the entire family down,” says Officer Sean Mitchell.

Capt. Lawrence Martin says that he wouldn’t want a family in a situation to have to wait for police or ambulance.

“Certainly we get there as quickly as we possibly can, but if you had the ability to administer lifesaving methods, you'd want to,” he says.

Police and health experts say that if a person has to administer Narcan, it is still recommended that they call police and emergency services. Once revived, a person could become agitated.

"One moment you're administering care and the next thing you could be fighting for your life,” Officer Mitchell says.

Wayne Township is teaming up with Robert Wood Johnson Medical School to hold free Narcan training sessions.

It has been 13 years since a surgeon general last issued a public health advisory. The last one focused on prenatal alcohol exposure.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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