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'Even at a billion, it would be an investment that is well worth it,' U.S. calls for more opioid antidotes

The U.S. government told doctors Wednesday to consider prescribing medications that reverse overdoses to many more patients who take opioid painkillers in a move that could add more than $ 1 billion US in health care costs.

Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, a doctor appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump, announced the guidance, saying it's important for doctors to discuss overdose dangers with patients.

Prescribing naloxone such as Narcan along with opioids forces a conversation that will lead to "a more informed decision by the patient," he said.

The action comes a day after a close vote from a U.S. Food and Drug Administration expert panel endorsing the idea of rewriting opioid drug labels to include a naloxone recommendation for many or all patients. An FDA document said such a move could add more than $ 1 billion US in health care costs.

"Even at a billion, it would be an investment that is well worth it," Giroir said.

More than 47,600 Americans died of opioid overdoses last year, a toll that has been rising for two decades. The street drug fentanyl is the top killer today, but prescription painkillers are still a problem, contributing to nearly 15,000 overdose deaths last year.

Naloxone comes in a nasal spray, an injection and an automatic injector. The Narcan nasal spray costs about $ 125 US for a two-dose kit, although government programs can get it for less. The automatic injector can cost as much as $ 4,000 per kit, although its maker recently authorized a cheaper generic version.

Carry naloxone: U.S. Surgeon General to Americans

Critics said prescribing the antidote to pain patients does not address the growing share of fatal overdoses caused by illicit opioids, and could cause shortages for programs that hand out the kits to street drug users.

It "will have the unintended consequence of derailing efforts to provide naloxone to the very effective community programs we know are successful in saving lives," said Dr. Raeford E. Brown Jr., who heads an expert panel advising the FDA.

The new guidance tells doctors to consider prescribing the antidote to patients on high doses of opioids, heavy drinkers, people with sleep apnea and other breathing problems, people taking benzodiazepines such as Xanax and people with addiction or mental health problems.

It expands upon a similar recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In April, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued the office's first national public health advisory in 13 years, calling on more Americans to start carrying naloxone and urging more federal money to be dedicated to broadening access.

Most states allow people to get naloxone from a pharmacy or community program under a statewide prescription and some states require doctors to also prescribe naloxone to patients on high doses of opioids.

The FDA is working toward an over-the-counter version of naloxone.

Brown said the government should use its emergency authority to buy and distribute large quantities of naloxone and immediately make it available over the counter. Trump directed the health agency to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency last year. 

"That's the difference between declaring a public health emergency and actually acting as if there's a public health emergency," Brown said.

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CBC | Health News

'Jersey Shore' Star Pauly D Says Fatherhood Has Made Him 'Even More Picky' When Dating (Exclusive)

Jersey Shore star Paul DelVecchio, aka Pauly D, is opening up about how his 4-year-old daughter, Amabella, has made him more selective when it comes to dating.

ET’s Katie Krause caught up with the 37-year-old reality star at the premiere of the hit MTV show’s Miami reunion series, Jersey Shore: Family Vacation, where he got candid about how becoming a dad has influenced his once highly scrutinized love life.

“Now, I’m even more picky when I pick women to actually meet her or my mother — only certain ones will meet them,” he explained before hitting the party at Hyde Sunset in Los Angeles, California. “I put my standards up a lot higher now.”

The television star hilariously added that he’s “super protective” of his little girl and doesn’t plan to let her date until she’s 30!

As for his own love life, he’s hoping Miss Right will show up soon.

“[Dating’s] just hard now because you gotta question the emotions and intentions,” he said. “It’s hard dating in general. That’s why I’m single. You’re supposed to not look for her — she’s supposed to just come, so I’m hoping that happens.”

The DJ, who has toured with Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, confirmed he did make use of the show’s “smush room,” but when it comes to whether he found love in Miami, he had another humorous response.

“I find love every single day, but I fall out every single morning,” he said. “It’s a problem!”

DelVecchio said he “never in a million years” imagined the cast would be back together filming again and promised some of the “craziest” times they’ve shared together on the upcoming show.

However, he admitted that not being able to drink with castmate Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, who has been sober for two years, was strange at first.

“It was weird because I never knew him to be sober and I didn’t want to drink around him, so at first I didn’t, but then he was so cool with it,” he said. “He’s so good. So, he still partied with us, but he just didn’t drink and we supported him in that.”

Jersey Shore: Family Vacation premieres April 5 on MTV.

See more on the cast below.


EXCLUSIVE: Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi Explains That ‘Ruin My Marriage’ Moment From ‘Jersey Shore’ Trailer

EXCLUSIVE: ‘Jersey Shore’s ​Ronnie Ortiz-Magro Says There’s ‘No Bad Blood’ With Sammi ‘Sweetheart’ Giancola

EXCLUSIVE: JWoww Opens Up About Partying With Her ‘Jersey Shore’ Fam: ‘Good Times Just End a Little Earlier’

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