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Surgeon General at Vanderbilt: Ask about Naloxone — You Might Save a Life

Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Friday urged anyone who steps into a pharmacy in Tennessee to ask if they stock and sell Naloxone.

It's a question he believed would raise demand, reduce prices and erase stigma for an anti-overdose drug that is central weapon in the war on the opioid epidemic.

Adams stressed that the nation won’t escape the growing overdose crisis by depending purely on 911 and first responders, so getting Naloxone, also known widely as Narcan, into the hands of everyday people is key.

“I am tired … of meeting mothers and fathers whose children have died just in the garage, just in the bedroom, just on the other side of the bathroom door, and knowing that they could have intervened if they had known about and had Naloxone,” Adams said.

Interactive: A look at the science of opioids

Adams, a Maryland anesthesiologist who was sworn in as surgeon general last September, advocated for Naloxone while speaking about the opioid crisis in front of a crowd of hundreds at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center campus on Friday. On Saturday, Adams is also scheduled to give a commencement speech at Meharry Medical College, the nation’s largest, private, historically-black medical school.

As surgeon general, Adams has made the opioid crisis a top priority, sometimes going to uncommon lengths to spotlight the epidemic. In April, for example, Adams issued the first public health advisory from a surgeon general in 13 years: He urged friends and family of anyone at risk of overdose to carry Naloxone, an inhalable or injectable drug that can be used to reverse an opioid overdose in minutes.

On Friday, Adam went even further, saying he believed Naloxone needed to be as commonplace as CPR and that he foresaw a day when the drug would be as widespread as fire extinguishers.

“I think we need to get there. I’m hopeful we won’t need to be there for the rest of my lifetime, but I know that right now — with a person dying every 12.5 minutes of an opioid overdose — we need to get Naloxone into as many hands as possible,” Adams told The Tennessean.

In Nashville, 188 Naloxone kits have already been given to 31 different agencies — including treatment centers, shelters and the fire department, according to the Metro Public Health Department.

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