“This study helps us understand that providing naloxone is not only effective, but can also be a very cost effective approach to preventing overdose deaths in heroin addicts,” Compton said.
Coffin added that there may be additional benefits from distributing the kits based on real-world experiences in places such as New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and Scotland, where overdose deaths fell between 37 percent and 90 percent with naloxone distribution programs.
“It may be influencing behavior,” said Coffin. “That rides on the assumption that talking to people about overdoes and providing them with a tool to prevent overdoses makes them a little bit more careful.”
But Compton said these kits may only be part of an approach to curb the growing epidemic of opioid overdose deaths.
“Providing this intervention to address the overdose epidemic is one piece of it, but we think it must be part of a larger approach to prevent the abuse and misuse of prescription drugs,” he said.
According to Compton and his editorial co-authors, which include NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow and representatives from the FDA, total U.S. drug overdose deaths in 2010 reached almost 40,000 and outpaced deaths from motor vehicle accidents.
Overall, Coffin told Reuters Health he thinks the results are “fantastic,” because it shows “it’s a really excellent benefit for a modest amount of dollars.”
SOURCE: Annals of Internal Medicine, online December 31, 2012.