From an editorial by Wilson Compton, Nora Volkow, Douglas Throckmorton, and Peter Lurie in the latest Annals of Internal Medicine:
Rates of fatal drug overdoses have more than doubled in the United States over the past decade to become one of the leading causes of preventable injury death. Overall drug overdose deaths increased to a record of 38,329 in 2010, outpacing deaths from motor vehicle traffic crashes nationally for 2 years running. Most of the increase in such deaths is related to prescription opioids and mirrors an increase in opioid prescribing. Diversion of these medications contributes to the problem, and both higher opioid doses and polysubstance use are significant contributing factors. [...]
The article by Coffin and Sullivan in this issue represents a significant step in the evolution of the science in this area: a detailed analysis of the cost-effectiveness of overdose intervention with naloxone administration for heroin abusers. The authors suggest that lay naloxone administration is likely to be highly cost-effective in this setting, a robust finding that holds up under various assumptions.