Thursday, June 21, 2012

American Medical Association Endorses Naloxone-Based Overdose Prevention as its Official Policy

By Leo Beletsky, Elena Moroz
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A Press Release from the American Medical Association on June 19th, 2012 stated the following on AMA’s new policy on community-based programs offering naloxone to prevent opioid overdoses:

PROMOTING PREVENTION OF FATAL OPIOID OVERDOSE: Opioid addiction and prescription drug abuse places a great burden on patients and society, and the number of fatal poisonings involving opioid analgesics more than tripled between 1999 and 2006. Naloxone is a drug that can be used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose. The AMA today adopted policy to support further implementation of community-based programs that offer naloxone and other opioid overdose prevention services. The policy also encourages education of health care workers and opioid users about the use of naloxone in preventing opioid overdose fatalities.

"Fatalities caused by opioid overdose can devastate families and communities, and we must do more to prevent these deaths," said Dr. Harris. "Educating both physicians and patients about the availability of naloxone and supporting the accessibility of this lifesaving drug will help to prevent unnecessary deaths."

Although the precise text of the policy resolution has not yet been published, this is a very positive step in building mainstream support for community-based overdose prevention programs. The support of the American Medical Association will help advocate for much needed additional resources for naloxone research and program activities on the federal, state and local levels, as well as internationally. 

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