For Many, a Life-Saving Drug Out of Reach
Submission Date: September 22, 2011
Attributing Author: Mai Zalavitz
Addicts have easier access to unprescribed drugs than they do to the one they may need to survive.
Mark Kinzly saved two lives this week. But he wouldn’t have been here to help if a friend hadn’t once done for him what he’s now repeatedly done for others — provide overdose victims with Naloxone, the antidote that revived them.
Overdose now kills more people in the United States than car accidents, making it the leading cause of injury-related mortality according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of deaths — 37,485 in 2009 — could be cut dramatically if Naloxone were available over-the-counter and placed in every first aid kit.
But that’s not likely to happen until the Food and Drug Administration takes some action. Naloxone is currently available only by prescription. Although dozens of needle exchange programs, rehab centers and pain specialists in at least 16 states distribute it, the prescription requirement severely limits its availability to those organizations that can afford to have doctors on staff.