Opioid Overdose Antidote

This Is Where America Is at, Now: Opioid Overdose Antidotes to Be Available on Planes and in Schools

(The Epoch Times)—Amid a national epidemic of opioid overdose deaths, the Biden administration has launched an initiative to distribute naloxone-based antidotes widely, including in schools and on airplanes.

In a statement announcing the “Challenge to Save Lives from Overdose,” the White House described it as “a nationwide call-to-action to stakeholders across all sectors to save lives by committing to increase both training and access to lifesaving opioid overdose reversal medications.”

Often sold under the brand name Narcan, and carried by many first responders, naloxone rapidly reverses an opioid overdose.

“An overdose can happen anywhere, to anyone,” the White House said. “That’s why President Biden has worked to strengthen not only the whole-of-government response but also the whole-of-society response to this public health and public safety crisis.

“Today, we’re calling on organizations and businesses—big and small, public and private—across the country to help ensure all communities are ready to use this life-saving tool to reduce opioid deaths,” the statement continued.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths rose 30 percent between 2019 and 2020 and another 15 percent between 2020 and 2021.

The health agency says synthetic opioids such as fentanyl were largely to blame for the increase.

More than 109,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in the 12-month period ending January 2023, according to provisional data from the CDC. Nearly 70 percent involved illegally manufactured fentanyls (IMFs).

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. As little as 2 milligrams is potentially lethal.

According to U.S. officials, an increasing number of Mexican cartels have been importing fentanyl from China before pressing it into pills or mixing it into other counterfeit pills made to look like Xanax, Adderall, or oxycodone for sale in the United States.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has warned of a surge in overdoses involving fentanyl, which the agency says is killing Americans at an “unprecedented” rate.

As part of its “challenge,” the Biden administration is encouraging private companies and people across all sectors to train employees on opioid overdose reversal medications and keep overdose medications in first aid kits.

The administration is also urging them to distribute the medications to employees and customers so they might save a life at home, at work, or in their communities.

The drug overdose medication will be widely available, including in schools and other places of learning and on planes, including those run by Southwest Airlines, among others, and on state and local transport systems.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year approved two opioid overdose drugs for over-the-counter (OTC) use—RiVive, which is manufactured by Harm Reduction Therapeutics and works as a nasal spray, and Narcan, the most widely used naloxone product.

“Saving lives is the North Star of the National Drug Control Strategy, and this effort requires more than just federal resources,” the White House said in the March 12 statement.

“We must come together. In memory of those we have lost and to protect those at risk of overdose, the Administration is refocusing the Nation’s attention on the devastation caused by illicit fentanyl, reaffirming our collective commitment to beating this crisis, and doubling down on efforts to empower all Americans to save lives,” officials said.

Caden Pearson contributed to this report.