Oct. 19, 2022 – “It’s a good wake-up call for us to continue checking what other potential drug combinations happen in overdoses” and to monitor more closely, said Dr. Silvia Martins, professor of epidemiology and director of the Substance Use Epidemiology Unit at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, who is unaffiliated with the study. Naloxone can typically reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, including opioid-induced respiratory depression, but it has no effect on antihistamines.  “Because antihistamines do not respond to naloxone, co-involved opioid and antihistamine overdoses might require naloxone administration plus other immediate medical response measures to prevent death,” said lead author Amanda T. Dinwiddie, a health scientist at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control’s division of overdose prevention.

The study doesn’t capture why people took antihistamines with opioids, but Martins said there are reasons that go beyond enhancing the opioids’ effects.