The fact that we are living with an opioid epidemic in this country, state and the Española Valley is not news to anyone reading this letter.
While by no means a comprehensive solution, increasing access to naloxone is something every community can take action on right away to help decrease opioid overdoses is increasing access to naloxone.
New Mexico has been a leader in increasing access to naloxone by requiring all first responders to carry the drug, providing greater access at the pharmacy counter, and encouraging co-prescription of the medication for at-risk patients. These regulatory changes have helped protect vulnerable populations in New Mexico, but there is still much more that can be accomplished through increased co-prescription in federal health care programs.
Co-prescription of naloxone would not only improve patient outcomes—it is also cost effective.
Opioid-related Intensive Care Unit admissions are increasing in both number and price. However, studies show that access to naloxone drastically reduces the number of emergency department visits, ultimately reducing overdose costs.
I thank U.S. Rep. Ben Lujan for his work to support naloxone access to date and I look forward to his work with his colleagues in Congress to increase access to naloxone through a change in federal policy to encourage co-prescription, when appropriate. This will have enormous impact and set a precedent for coverage by private insurers and physician prescribing practices across the country. Guidance and regulations only work if implemented and followed. Medicare and Medicaid should take the lead on co-prescription.
Mayor Javier Sanchez