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6-Nov-14 10:30 AM  CST  

Opioid Overdoses Increasing at an Alarming Rate: Justice Department Encouraging Use of Overdose “Tool Kit” 

Prescription opioid painkillers are once again making headlines, and again, not in a positive light. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times details the cost associated with prescription opioid painkiller overdoses. Prescription opioid painkillers are effective pain relievers, but unfortunately have a negative undertone that continues to be damaging for the drug class. Drugs that fall under this classification include, Percocet (oxycodone/APAP), morphine, Vicodin (hydrocodone/APAP), Dilaudid (hyrdromorphone), Durgesic (Fentanyl), OxyContin (oxycodone), Dolophine (methadone), Opana (oxymorphone), and codeine, just to name a few.

            According to the LA Times, opioids prescribed by a physician lead to more than 92,000 ED visits for overdose each year, and the cost associated with treating opioid overdose is a whooping 1.4 billion dollars every years. Under any condition this would be alarming, but with a healthcare system under major change, even the US State Department has taken notice.

U.S. State Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., believes the situation has reached critical status, and is encouraging law enforcement across the country to outfit their officers with what the Justice Department is calling a “tool kit”. The “kit”, which provides information for officers on how to recognize and treat opioid overdose, also includes information on the use of the injectable drug, naloxone, a pure opioid antagonist used to treat the effects of opioid overdose.

Abuse of opioids, prescription and illegal, has more than quadrupled over the last decade, causing costs associated with not only treating opioid overdose, but addiction as well, to skyrocket. With the recent Schedule change to Vicodin (hyrdrocodone/APAP), and the FDA’s quick approval of Evzio (naloxone auto injector), it is easy to see the problem of opioid use and overdose has reached mass critical proportion in the US. Being able to outfit police officers and first responders with the tools needed to prevent and treat opioid overdose will be a much needed step forward towards decreasing such alarming statistics.




Girion, L. and Kaplan, L. “Opioids Prescribed by Doctors Lead to More Than 92,000 Overdoses in ERs in One Year” Los Angeles Times, 10/29/2014, referenced 31 October 2014

Kroll, D. “FDA Rapidly Approved Naloxone Auto-Injector of Heron and Prescription Opioid Overdose, Forbes Magazine, 04/03/2014,

O’Connell, J. “New Tool in Drug Overdose Prevention” news@Northwestern, 10/29/2014,, referenced 31 October 2014

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Source: Sandy Andrews

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