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HHS Issues Naloxone Guidance

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released guidance on the prescribing and use of naloxone, a drug antagonist that reverses the effects of opioid overdoses and has proven highly effective at preventing deaths due to overdose.

The new HHS guidance recommends that clinicians consider prescribing or coprescribing naloxone to individuals with a high risk of opioid overdose, including patients who:

  • are prescribed a high dosage of opioids (50 morphine milligram equivalents or greater per day);
  • are prescribed any dose of opioids and have respiratory conditions;
  • are prescribed any dose of opioids and have been prescribed benzodiazepines;
  • are prescribed any dose of opioids and experience a non-opioid substance use disorder, report excessive alcohol use, or have a mental health disorder;
  • use heroin, use illicit synthetic opioids, or misuse prescription opioids;
  • use other illicit drugs, which could potentially be contaminated with illicit synthetic opioids like fentanyl;
  • receive treatment for opioid use disorder, including medication-assisted treatment; or
  • have a history of opioid misuse that were recently released from incarceration or other controlled settings where tolerance to opioids has been lost.

The guidance also includes key facts for patients and their caregivers and additional information about naloxone.

America’s Essential Hospitals has established a resource page for the opioid epidemic. Visit this page for new and updated information.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Rachel Schwartz is a policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.