Steadily increasing for more than a decade, deaths due to opioid overdoses are now the No. 1 cause of injury fatalities in America – surpassing motor vehicle crashes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports. The latest figures, issued in October 2016 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), show more than 28,000 people died during 2014 – and at least half the deaths involved prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine. The other half? Blame the illegal drug heroin because it often is used as a cheaper substitute by patients addicted to prescription opioids. Overall, the CDC warns this is “an epidemic.”
“Don’t think opioid addiction is something that only happens to someone else, somewhere else. Painkiller dependency crosses income groups, extends into most neighborhoods and harms people of all races and ethnic groups.” says Dr. Matthew McCarty of Balcones Pain Consultants. The CDC estimates as many as 1 in 4 people who take prescription opioids for noncancer pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction.
Among those with the highest overdose rates:
- People age 25 to 54
- Non-Hispanic whites
In response to this epidemic, GenoRite Pharmacy has created an affordable naloxone nasal spray called Opi-Aid that is stable for 6 months and available by standing order to patients, first responders, family members, and significant others. It is easily administered to reverse the deadly effects of an opiate overdose within minutes. Thanks to recent Texas legislation, naloxone is more accessible than ever before and may be found at GenoRite Pharmacy located at Davis Lane west of MoPac in south Austin. A part of Balcones Pain Consultants, GenoRite Pharmacy specializes in genetically-guided compounding services.
Unlike other Narcan products, Opi-Aid is a custom compounded formulation allowing for multiple dosages if needed. This is important with the stronger synthetic opioids available today. Dispensed by a standing order, this antidote delivers a consistent, measured dose into the nostrils that blocks or reverses opioid overdose symptoms, such as extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing and loss of consciousness, to give emergency responders more time to save a person’s life.
Until the nasal spray version was “fast track” approved by the FDA last year, only injectable forms of naloxone at lower dosages were available. Dr. Matt McCarty of Balcones Pain Consultants recommends naloxone be kept on hand by the family and significant others of those at high risk of overdose on opioids or those who’ve recently completed drug rehab.