White House launches new initiative pushing businesses to train employees on what to do for an opioid overdose

 Chris McCrory

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is encouraging companies and local governments to increase availability of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone in a new initiative to combat the U.S. opioid epidemic, which has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans since the 90s.

The “White House Challenge to Save Lives from Overdose” is a nationwide call-to-action, according to an announcement from the White House.

“Today, we’re calling on organizations and businesses—big and small, public and private—across the country to help ensure all communities are ready to use this life-saving tool to reduce opioid deaths,” White House officials said in an emailed statement. “As the drug supply has gotten more dangerous and lethal, we’re asking allies to join us because we all must do our part to keep communities safe.”

The challenge asks organizations to make a commitment to train employees on how to handle an opioid overdose and to purchase naloxone for every first aid kit at a business.

Businesses can sign up to take the challenge or share stories of life-saving measures here.

The Biden administration did not announce any initiatives to provide naloxone as part of the challenge.

Naloxone, often referred to by its brand name, Narcan, is a medicine that can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The medicine is often administered through the nose as a spray, and works by attaching to opioid receptors in the body, blocking the drugs from binding to them and preventing the opioids from taking effect.

Its almost instantaneous effects have been celebrated by activists as a massive step forward in the ongoing struggle against the opioid crisis in the U.S.

Since being approved in 2015, Narcan has become a common addition to the toolkits of first responders and healthcare professionals. In 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it as an over-the-counter drug, greatly increasing its accessibility.

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