Oct. 31, 2023 – “We will encourage businesses, restaurants, banks, construction sites, schools, others to think about this — think about it as a smoke alarm or a defibrillator, to make it as easily accessible, because it’s not just you,” Gupta said when the drug was approved. “It could be your neighbor, it could be your family, your friend, a person at work or school who might need it.”

More than 5,000 children and teens have died of drug overdoses involving fentanyl in the past two decades, according to data published recently in JAMA Pediatrics.

More than half of those deaths occurred during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

About 1,500 children and teens died from fentanyl in 2021. That was 30 times higher than in 2013, when opioid deaths in the United States began to rise, CNN reported.

Most pediatric deaths from fentanyl are in 15- to 19-year-olds.

“A teenager today can log onto social media with a smartphone and buy what they think is an opioid pain medicine or a prescription stimulant to help them study — and instead die from one pill that actually has fentanyl in it,” Gupta and Cardona emphasized in their letter.

Naloxone restores breathing as it blocks the effects of opioids on the brain. It’s most effective as soon as the signs of an overdose begin. It only works for opioids, but isn’t harmful if someone hasn’t taken these drugs.