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Broader use of opioid antidote slashes overdose death rate

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 18, 2013

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A Massachusetts program that distributed naloxone to high-risk opioid users and their friends helped cut the overdose death rate by nearly half, according to findings published in BMJ.

Naloxone can be delivered by injection or nasal spray and effectively combats the life-threatening respiratory suppressive effects of an opioid overdose. The participants were given the nasal spray version and instructed how to use it on the person who overdosed and then call 911.

Researchers examined how opioid overdose death rates fared in 19 communities with varying rates of implementation of the naloxone distribution program.

Compared with communities that did not implement it, those in which 100 or fewer residents per 100,000 were trained in the program had overdose death rates that were 27% lower. In communities where more than 100 residents per 100,000 participated, the death rate fell by 54%, said the Jan. 31 study (link).

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