Thank you for putting the heroin epidemic front and center in the Idaho Statesman recently. Prescription drug and heroin abuse are leading causes of death and disability in Idaho and across our country. As a physician who cares for many substance users, I was disappointed, however, that the article did not go further. The discussion is incomplete without giving consideration to evidence-based treatments for opioid dependence, such as methadone maintenance and buprenorphine, as well as the limited access to these treatments in Idaho. I was also surprised that the article did not mention the life-saving medication naloxone, which the Idaho Legislature approved for use by patients and their families in July 2015. Used for years in hospitals to quickly reverse an opioid overdose, naloxone can now be prescribed by physicians and dispensed by pharmacists, with or without a prescription. Naloxone will reverse an opioid overdose for 30 to 60 minutes and buys time for the paramedics to arrive. Increased access to naloxone, as well as methadone maintenance and buprenorphine, can help curb the opioid overdose epidemic.
Magni Hamso, MD MPH, Boise