What do we do with a medicine that prevents certain death for people with a particular condition—and is safe, cheap, and easy to administer?
- Immediately make it accessible to those who can administer it when such a life-or-death situation arises.
- Make it available to no one except doctors and emergency room workers.
- Endlessly debate the particulars of how and when it should be widely introduced.
If you picked number one, that would seem to be a reasonable choice. Unfortunately, it would also be incorrect. With few exceptions, answers two or three apply in the vast majority of the world when it comes to the medicine naloxone. Overdose remains a leading cause of death among people who use drugs, particularly those who inject. Increasing the availability and accessibility of naloxone would reduce these deaths overnight.
Naloxone is an effective opioid antagonist used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose. On a global scale, however, exactly how and where naloxone is used remains unclear. International Doctors for Healthier Drug Policies(IDHDP) is seeking to learn why this is and what can be done to change it.
Some form of community-based distribution programs for naloxone exist in over a dozen countries. But the quality of data pertaining to how naloxone is used is highly variable. Enhancing our knowledge about the use of naloxone will help us to better reap its benefits.