Naloxone Rarely Administered by Layperson in Opioid Deaths

Bystanders present in large proportion of overdose deaths; 17.4% involve Rx opioids only.
Bystanders present in large proportion of overdose deaths; 17.4% involve Rx opioids only.

HealthDay News — From July 2016 to June 2017, bystanders were documented in 44% of opioid overdose deaths, but naloxone was rarely administered by a layperson, according to a study published August 31 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Christine L. Mattson, PhD, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and colleagues used data from 11 states participating in the CDC's Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance program to describe opioid overdose deaths among those testing positive for prescription opioids (eg, oxycodone and hydrocodone), illicit opioids (eg, heroin, illicitly manufactured fentanyl, and fentanyl analogs), or both prescription and illicit opioids. 

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From July 2016 through June 2017, the researchers identified 11,884 opioid overdose deaths, in which 17.4% of decedents tested positive for prescription opioids only, 58.7% for illicit opioids only, and 18.5% for both prescription and illicit opioids. In the month preceding the fatal overdose, approximately 1 in 10 decedents had been released from an institutional setting. In 44% of the deaths, bystanders were reportedly present, but naloxone was rarely administered by a layperson.

"Consistent with other emerging evidence and recommendations, these data suggest prevention efforts should prioritize naloxone distribution to persons misusing opioids or using high-dosage prescription opioids and to their family members and friends," conclude the authors.

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