While researchers have been working tirelessly to treat conditions such as blindness and HIV, drug use as a health issue is sitting on the back burner. To bring attention back to the opioid epidemic, pharmaceutical giant Walgreens is selling medication that reverses the effects of heroin overdoses.
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, [is a] medicine that can reverse the effects of an overdose from opioid drugs or heroin within seconds.
The treatment is selling over-the-counter at more than 8,000 branches in nearly every state. The remaining five states that don’t offer the drug are battling regulation issues. Dr. Dan Lustig of addiction treatment facility Haymarket Center has since commended Walgreens’ efforts.
“This actually signifies, I think, a significant step in the battle that we have with this epidemic.”
“First and foremost, it gives families a fighting chance to save loved ones,”
Many remain skeptical, citing Narcan as an encouraging factor to continue drug use. Though the ethical implications of the drug are problematic, it’s still better to be safe than sorry.
There are a rising number of communities learning to address drug addiction as a health issue. All the same, some have yet to remove the stigma (and anyway, 3D printing can repair brain damage). In a perfectly timed series of events, the FDA has approved a device that may encourage other societies to tackle addiction head on. The electronic earpiece inhibits opioid withdrawal symptoms.
“Given the scope of the epidemic of opioid addiction, we need to find innovative new ways to help those currently addicted live lives of sobriety with the assistance of medically assisted treatment,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.
The NSS-2 Bridge sends pulses to the cranial nerve, reducing nausea, anxiety, and body aches. Clinical trials showed that 88% of 73 patients experienced an easy segue into medical treatment.
“I’ve never seen it not work for an opioid patient,” [said Innovative Health Solutions president Brian] Carrico… “For us to sit on this technology, from a humanity standpoint, is incredibly irresponsible.”
As with any experimental technology, including the Bridge in addiction treatment costs an arm and a leg (and maybe a lung). So far, patients spend between $600 and $1,500. On the upside, it’s proven to many that it’s never too late to recover.