March 13, 2018
I have been meaning to buy some Narcan (the trade name for the drug Nalaxone) at the local pharmacy and keeping it my car. For the uninitiated, Narcan is a nasal spray (that is available over-the-counter) that is effective at saving the lives of people who are overdosing on opiates. In my line of work, it might come in handy. For that matter, anyone in my neck of the woods might easily run into someone od’ing in a fast food restaurant rest room. Having some Narcan on hand could literally mean the difference between life and death.
Not everyone thinks this is necessarily a good idea.
In a thought-provoking paper, two academics — Jennifer Doleac at the University of Virginia and Anita Mukherjee at the University of Wisconsin — concluded that access to Naloxone correlated with an increase in opioid-related crimes, more ER visits, an increased use of fentanyl (a synthetic opiate that is much, much more potent than heroin) and, counterintuitively, an increase in opioid-related mortality.
I’m not sure I buy into the argument, but it does underscore the fairly obvious conclusion that the opioid epidemic is a monster that is not going to be easy to slay.