Research Pushes for Take-Home Naloxone to Prevent Heroin Overdose Mortalities

Naloxone increases survival rates and reduced mortality rates from heroin overdoses.

A recent study recommends that take-home Naloxone (THN) become an additional standard of care for the prevention of heroin overdose mortalities, a drug that has had immense success since its approval, a recent study found.

Evaluating THN programs has been a challenge, and randomized controlled trials were often unethical and filled with difficulties because of the infrequency and unpredictability of overdoses.

In order to overcome this challenge, researchers used the Bradford Hill criteria, which assessed the impact of broad based public health interventions that are ethically unfeasible or impractical to conduct in randomized controlled trials.

The study, published in Addiction, is the first to evaluate international evidence based on take-home Naloxone.

Data was taken from 22 observational studies of THN programs in the United States, Canada, Germany, and the UK, with the number of participants ranging from 24 to 2912, at an average of 203 individuals.

The results of the study showed that THN programs increased survival rates among study participants and reduced the mortality rates of heroin overdoses. A low rate of adverse events was also reported.

“These findings strongly support the distribution of take-home naloxone to [caregivers], drug users and their friends and families to prevent deaths from heroin overdose,” said co-author John Strang in a press release.

In fact, it was estimated that Naloxone successfully reversed heroin overdose in 96 to 99% of cases. Furthermore, there was no evidence that suggested the THN programs encouraged heroin use.

“The vast majority of studies included in this review reported on heroin overdoses, so future research will need to examine the impact of take-home naloxone for overdoses from long-acting opioids, such as methadone or prescription opioid medications,” Strang said.