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Surgeon General urges Americans to take a drug that stops opioid overdoses

Dr. Adams, who plans to speak at a conference in Atlanta on Thursday, emphasized in the announcement that more opiate users, as well as their family and friends and anyone who comes in contact with them regularly, should take naloxone.

Photo [19659003] General surgeon Jerome Adams in February. The warning issued on Thursday was the first from the office since 2005.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

The last warning from a general surgeon, in 2005, warned pregnant women not to drink alcohol; A prior notice in 1981 urged pregnant women to limit the amount of alcohol they drank.

The most important factor in the increase of overdoses has been synthetic fentanyl and related highly toxic substances. Deaths from fentanyl use more than doubled between 2015 and 2016, along with an increase in deaths from cocaine and methamphetamine use. Together they join an epidemic of drug overdose that is killing people at a faster rate than H.I.V. epidemic in its heyday.

Fentanyl is so powerful that emergency responders have often had to use multiple doses of naloxone to revive people who overdosed. Some critics have said that it gives drug users a safety net, allowing them to overdose repeatedly with the assurance that they can be revived. But public health experts dismiss that notion as ridiculous, like saying that safety belts encourage riskier behavior.

The price of naloxone has increased considerably as it has become more demanded, and although individuals can often obtain it at low cost or without insurance or public programs, many local police, fire and health departments are struggling against the increasing cost, which requires increasingly larger amounts of your budgets.

Dr. Leana Wen, the health commissioner in Baltimore, said her city has to ration naloxone because it can not afford to keep a reserve available. He called on the Trump administration to negotiate directly with the naloxone manufacturers to make it available at an abrupt discount rate.

"Every week, we count the doses we have left and make difficult decisions about who will receive the medication and who will have to go without it," he said in a statement. "The federal government needs to follow its policy guide with specific actions to truly guarantee access."

He added: "We must not discount the ability to save lives."

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