National Institute of Drug Abuse partners with New York hospitals to increase overdose prevention

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The Nurse-Led Medicine Prescribing Service will allow naloxone, which reverses overdoses, to be distributed without first-time prescriber approval

The National Institute of Drug Abuse has partnered with three New York hospitals to offer a network of five overdose prevention centers in the city.

The service will allow first-time opioid users access to naloxone, which reverses overdoses, without first-time prescriber approval. It was scheduled to open on Monday.

Opioid-related fatalities rose to a record high of 33,091 in 2017. Police records show the biggest spike in overdoses this year was in May, when the death toll stood at 1,409.

The NIDA program aims to make naloxone and other overdose prevention tools more accessible.

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Under current law, prescription opioids are taken as needed.

“Overdose deaths related to opioids have skyrocketed, making this an increasingly urgent public health crisis,” said Richard Hager, NIDA’s acting director. “While painkillers are a tool in pain relief, overdosing on opioids can be deadly and may not have started with medication use.”

The nurse-led prescribing service will be modeled after one that successfully reduced hospital deaths in Washington DC over the past two years.

While evidence suggests naloxone has no addictive potential, many users do not know how to administer the drug. It’s unclear how exactly the service will work, and the specifics of its implementation have not been finalized.

Naloxone kits can be purchased over the counter.

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