The U.S. opiate epidemic leads to about 16,000 deaths a year. Activists have proposed solutions, and many states have passed legislation to allow physicians to prescribe naloxone, permit pharmacists to distribute naloxone over the counter without a prescription, provide legal protection to those who report overdoses, and allow first responders such as police and firefighters to administer the medication. Opponents have argued that this may increase opiate use by lessening overdose fear. Still, widespread availability of opiate reversal agents has the potential to save many lives, and efforts to improve access should be commended.
On the surface, the solution seems simple, cost-effective, safe, and free from problems. Naloxone is deemed to be inexpensive, often quoted at $3 per dose, but increased demand has raised the price to as much as $42 per dose, according to NPR. There are multiple studies that show the medication can be safely and effectively administered both intramuscularly and intranasally. In skilled hands, naloxone has been found to be effective, and the medication can clearly be lifesaving.
Below are some of the potential issues and problems that should be addressed, or at least anticipated.