Editorial: Narcan isn’t addiction antidote | TribLIVE.com

Editorial: Narcan isn’t addiction antidote

Naloxone, which can reverse the effects of a drug overdose, is available in nasal spray that retails for $90 to $125. The applicator manufactured by Radnor-based Adapt Pharma is inserted in the nose and dispenses 0.1 milliliters of the drug.

People are alive today because of Narcan.

That is absolutely indisputable.

Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, is like a pharmacological blindfold. If someone has overdosed on a narcotic, a dose of Narcan can make the body and brain ignore the drugs. Pay no attention to that heroin. What heroin? There is no heroin here.

But Narcan doesn’t last as long as the increasingly potent drugs it counteracts. Fentanyl can demand repeated doses to prevent a death as the Narcan wanes and the narcotics take hold again.

Enter the University of Pittsburgh researchers — chemist Saadyah Averick and neurobiologist Benedict Kolber — who are working on a longer-lasting, extended release version of the lifeline that could stay active in the body for two days instead of an hour.

That is remarkable, and that is vital as newer, more potent drugs are developed for both legitimate medical uses and illicit consumption alike.

What we can’t do is mistake the antidote to the poison for an antidote to the problem.

More Narcan availability is clearly responsible for the downturn in overdose deaths. But while we are grateful for the numbers, we have to look at the reality of them. Nationwide, prescriptions for the drug have doubled, but fatal overdoses have fallen just 3%.

That means Narcan is saving lives, but it isn’t fighting addiction.

That fatality number could fall a lot further with a long-lasting form of Narcan, and that is fantastic.

What we still need is a long-lasting antidote to addiction. Without that, we are treating a symptom and not curing a disease.

We need the same kind of curiosity, innovation and problem-solving to go into fixing addiction that we put into pulling addicts back from an overdose. We need more people like Averick and Kolber working across disciplines to find solutions.

We need them so more people survive because they never had an overdose.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.