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Officials starting to see value of non-punitive approach to Rx drug crisis

In a post recently, our blog relayed some of the shocking findings of a report by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission outlining the number of drug-related fatalities across the state's 67 counties. Indeed, the report found that the situation is particularly dire here in Orange County, where abuse of prescription opioids and heroin continues to take an immense toll on public health.

As truly disconcerting as this, the good news is that officials at both the state and federal level have recently taken steps to help combat the opioid and heroin epidemic that are decidedly non-punitive.

Improved access to naloxone

If a person overdoses on prescription opioids or heroin, time is of the essence, such that even the few minutes spent waiting for an ambulance or driving to the hospital can prove fatal. While there is a very effective drug called naloxone that can reverse an overdose in mere seconds, it is typically only available to medical professionals and first responders.

In recognition of the fact that expanding access to naloxone could save more lives, officials have now cleared the way for Florida to become one of 30 states participating in a program run by CVS pharmacies that enables people to purchase the drug without a prescription. Specifically, starting in July, everyone from nightclubs and bars to sober houses and family homes will be able to purchase either a two-dose nasal spray or a two-dose injection kit on their own for $100 and $45, respectively.

Approval of treatment implant

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted its approval of an implantable six-month dose of buprenorphine, a drug designed to decrease the high from opiates, diminish cravings and alleviate the effects of withdrawal.

This implantable form of buprenorphine will be available to recovering addicts who have demonstrated that they are able to tolerate low-to-moderate doses of the drug, which is currently only available via pill form or a film placed in the mouth.

FDA officials reasoned that the implant will help addicts avoid some of the potential complications associated with oral buprenorphine, including possible abuse or simple absentmindedness.

It's highly encouraging to see how attitudes toward the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic are starting to evolve, with officials at all levels finally recognizing that meaningful change can't be achieved through harsher criminal penalties alone.

If you are struggling with addiction, and have been charged with possession of prescription drugs or some other form of prescription fraud, please consider contacting the Law Offices of Horwitz & Citro, P.A., P.A. as soon as possible. Together, we can discuss your rights, your case and your options outside of incarceration.