Assistant Secretary for Health appointed by President Trump, Brett Giroir has announced a new guidance last week to doctors for discussing dangers of overdosing on drugs with patients. Doctors have been asked to consider prescribing medicines to reverse effects of opioid painkiller overdoses in patients which could add $1 billion to the government healthcare costs. The overdose medicine Naloxone is sold under different names as Narcan and Ezvio when it is given along with opioids will help patients to make more informed decisions. This recommendation was given by Giroir a day after FDA’s expert panel endorsed the idea of rewriting opioid prescriptions along with recommendation for Naloxone.
Though the FDA document wrote that such a decision would lead to increase in healthcare costs by $1 billion, Giroir said that the expense would be worth the investment. This decision was made in view of the fact that nearly 47600 Americans died of opioid overdose last year and the figure has been rising for past couple of decades. One of the top killers on the street may be fentanyl but prescription painkillers are also a problem as they contributed to 15000 overdose deaths last year. Naloxone can be taken in the form of a nasal spray, injection or an automatic injector.
While two doses of Narcan nasal spray kit costs $125 the automatic injector kit costs $4000 but its manufacturer authorized sales of a cheap generic version. But critics says that the prescribing this antidote to patients using opioid painkillers does not address the growing problem of fatal overdoses due to illegal opioids as this move could curtail availability of these kits to drug abusers on the streets. The new guidance by Dr. Brett Giroir has told doctors to prescribe this Naloxone antidote to patients with high opioids in their painkillers, heavy alcohol users, sleep apnea sufferers, users of benzodiazepines, people with breathing problems and people that have mental health issues.