Naloxone shortage taking place

Dentists are encouraged to check their supply of the life-saving antidote that can reduce and reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.

By DOCS Incisor Writing Staff

The life expectancy of Americans took a dive in 2020 and unfortunately, COVID-19 wasn’t the only devastating culprit. Data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed an all-time high in drug overdose deaths, rising from an estimated 72,000 in 2019 to approximately 95,000 deaths last year. That’s a staggering 30% increase in fatal overdoses due to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain meds OxyContin and Fentanyl.

Naloxone (also known as Narcan) is an affordable, life-saving antidote that blocks opioid receptors in the body, reducing–even reversing- the effects of the drug in overdoses. It’s typically easy to access naloxone through pharmacies, harm reduction treatment centers, law enforcement, and community locations such as libraries, medical and dental offices, to name a few.

The largest source for distributing naloxone to the communities in need is the Opioid Safety and Supply (OSSN) Buyer’s Club, which negotiates a special price from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. Unfortunately, Pfizer has reportedly halted production of naloxone and their website indicates that supplies are currently depleted.

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According to drug policy outlet Filter, it’s unclear if the manufacturing issue is a result of Pfizer’s development and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Harm reduction organizations and advocates fear that an insufficient supply of the antidote in the face of increasing demand and prices could lead to tragic consequences around the country.

Administered quickly and correctly, naloxone could save a life in your practice before first responders arrive. Dental professionals who keep the drug on hand to ensure the safety of their patients are encouraged to check their supplies and expiration dates today. Be sure to stock up before it may not be possible.

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