The US' chief doctor wants more Americans to carry the overdose antidote naloxone to help combat the nation's opioid crisis and save lives. US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams was to speak about the new public health advisory Thursday at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta, the AP reports. In a news release, Adams said he hopes those who are at risk—as well as their friends and family members—will keep the antidote on hand and learn how to use it. "It is time to make sure more people have access to this lifesaving medication, because 77% of opioid overdose deaths occur outside of a medical setting and more than half occur at home," he said in a statement. More than 42,000 Americans suffered fatal opioid overdoses in 2016, per the statement.
Naloxone can restore a person's breathing after it's injected or sprayed in the nostrils, quickly bringing OD victims back from near death. The drug, often referred to by the brand name Narcan, is available OTC in most states and regularly used by first responders. A two-dose pack of Narcan is among many options available, and the drug is increasingly covered by insurance, per the Network for Public Health Law. As of July 2017, all 50 states have passed laws improving naloxone access, the nonprofit says. Critics argue naloxone doesn't treat addiction and discourages people from seeking treatment by essentially offering a safety net if they do OD. Proponents, however, argue greater access to naloxone doesn't draw people to illegal drug use or foster addiction.