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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Narcan Saves Lives and Money

Every year drug overdoses claim thousands of lives and in many cases such occurrences could have been avoided especially when it comes to opiate related incidents. Since 1996, more than 10,000 drug overdoses involving opiates like heroin and oxycodone have been successfully reversed, according to a report conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The cause of reversal is a drug known as Naloxone, otherwise distributed under the name Narcan. Furthermore, a new study has indicated that not only can the antidote save lives - it can save money, too.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health's researchers concluded that one death may be prevented for every 164 naloxone injection kits given to heroin users, according to Reuters. The cost of saving just one life is about $400 a year.

"The great news here is these overdose deaths can be prevented, it's cost effective to do so, and may even be cost saving," lead author Dr. Phillip Coffin told Reuters. A computer simulation was created to predict what would happen if naloxone injection kits were distributed to 20 percent of heroin users in the United States. Coffin then compared the resulting deaths and costs to a simulation of heroin users who did not receive the kits. His findings showed that in a population of 200,000 heroin users, 6.5 percent of deaths could be prevented with naloxone kits.

The study appears in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
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