Despite health officials focusing most of their attention on the coronavirus pandemic, other areas of public health are still in need of attention. For example, reducing the number of fatalities caused by the opioid pandemic is still a key concern in the US.
In light of this, the FDA announced this week that it will be introducing new measures to protect consumers against the potential dangers of opioid medication, as this is a leading cause of death among some age groups in a number of American states.
What are the new rules?
The FDA’s new rules will require opioid manufacturers to follow stricter rules on the labelling of products. This will include a recommendation that patients discuss their needs and options, including naloxone, with their doctor any time they switch or renew their treatment.
According to health officials, these changes to labels are necessary to slow the number of deaths and prevent future deaths, as they provide consumers with vital information about the risks of opioids and what to do in case of an overdose.
“Today’s action can help further raise awareness about this potentially life-saving treatment for individuals that may be at greater risk of an overdose and those in the community most likely to observe an overdose,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn.
Will it prevent overdoses?
Since 1999, over 750,000 people have died as a result of the opioid epidemic. And this isn’t the first attempt to raise awareness of the dangers and the possible advantages of naloxone. In 2018, for instance, consumers were advised to carry the medicine as it could save lives.
According to Surgeon General Dr. Jerome M. Adams“Each day, we lose 115 Americans to an opioid overdose — that’s one person every 12.5 minutes. It is time to make sure more people have access to this life saving medication, because 77 percent of opioid overdose deaths occur outside of a medical setting and more than half occur at home.”
Dr. Hahn added that , “We will use all available tools to address this crisis, and we know efforts to increase access to naloxone have the potential to put an important medicine for combating opioid overdose and death in the hands of those who need it most — those at increased risk of opioid overdose and their friends and family.”