WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it would require drug manufacturers to include information about naloxone, the overdose-reversal medication, on the labels of opioid painkillers.
The move comes just weeks after the federal government released new data showing that U.S. drug overdose deaths reached an all-time high in 2019, surpassing the previous peak recorded two years earlier. More recently, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to another increase in overdose deaths as the unemployment rate has skyrocketed and Americans have lost access to health insurance and to many in-person health services like addiction clinics or syringe exchanges.
Naloxone, often referred to by the brand name Narcan, has been used in the U.S. to reverse opioid overdoses since 1971. While it’s often prescribed in an injectable form, it’s also commonly sold as a nasal spray or a mechanized auto-injector, which make the medication easier for people without medical training to deliver.