Dr. Rahul Gupta, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, walks outside of the White House, Nov. 18, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo / Alex Brandon, File)

The Office of National Drug Control Policy announced the designation Wednesday, the first time the office has used it since the category for fast-growing drug dangers was created in 2019.

FILE - OxyContin pills are arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt., Feb. 19, 2013. (AP Photo / Toby Talbot, File)

The proposal could overhaul the way millions of Americans get some prescriptions after three years of relying on telehealth for doctor’s appointments by computer or phone during the pandemic.

FILE - Attendees practice administering Narcan during an overdose education and Narcan training class at the Onala Recovery Center on the South Shore of Pittsburgh on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021. (Alexandra Wimley / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP, File)

The potential move represents the latest government effort to increase use of a medication that has been a key tool in the battle against the U.S. overdose epidemic. The decades-old drug can counteract the effects of an opioid overdose in minutes.

Naloxone reverses an opioid overdose if administered in time. (WTTW News)

The key culprit appears to be the widespread availability of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.

In this Nov. 5, 2020 file photo, a woman pushes a shopping cart to enter a Walmart in Rolling Meadows, Ill. Walmart on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022 become the latest major player in the drug industry to announce a plan to settle lawsuits filed by state and local governments over the toll of powerful prescription opioids sold at its pharmacies with state and local governments across the U.S. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

The retail giant's announcement follows similar proposals on Nov. 2 from the two largest U.S. pharmacy chains, CVS Health and Walgreen Co., which each said they would pay about $5 billion.

A CVS Pharmacy is shown in Mount Lebanon, Pa., on Monday May 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Two of the largest U.S. pharmacy chains, CVS Health and Walgreen Co., announced agreements in principle Wednesday to pay about $5 billion each to settle lawsuits nationwide over the toll of opioids, and a lawyer said Walmart is in discussions for a deal.

(WTTW News)

The agreement represents the second largest national settlement in U.S. history, dwarfed only by the agreements with tobacco firms reached in the 1990s.

(Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash)

Starting Thursday, Chicagoans calling the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances can be transferred directly to treatment provider Family Guidance Centers, Inc. to receive immediate medication-assisted recovery. 

(Photo by @plqml // felipe pelaquim on Unsplash)

A key tenet of harm reduction is meeting people who use drugs where they’re at. The coronavirus challenged advocates’ ability to do just that, prompting them to think differently about how they provide and deliver services.

Deb Walker visits the grave of her daughter, Brooke Goodwin, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, in Chester, Vt. Goodwin, 23, died in March of 2021 of a fatal overdose of the powerful opioid fentanyl and xylazine, an animal tranquilizer that is making its way into the illicit drug supply. (AP Photo / Lisa Rathke, File)

The provisional 2021 total translates to roughly one U.S. overdose death every 5 minutes. It marked a 15% increase from the previous record, set the year before. The CDC reviews death certificates and then makes an estimate to account for delayed and incomplete reporting.

(WTTW News)

The Illinois Overdose Action Plan offers new and expanded resources to help treat substance abuse and addiction.

Brian Hackel, right, an overdose prevention specialist, helps Steven Baez, a client suffering addiction, find a vein to inject intravenous drugs at an overdose prevention center, at OnPoint NYC in New York, N.Y., Friday, Feb. 18, 2022. (AP Photo / Seth Wenig)

Supporters say the sites — also known as safe injection sites or supervised consumption spaces — are humane, realistic responses to the deadliest drug crisis in U.S. history. Critics see them as illegal and defeatist answers to the harm that drugs wreak on users and communities.

Liz Fitzgerald of Southington and Paige Niver of Manchester hold hands at the end of a news conference at Connecticut Attorney General William Tong's office, Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Hartford, Conn. Fitzgerald lost two sons to opioids and Niver's daughter became addicted to opioids after getting prescribed OxyContin at 14 years old. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

The deal, which must be approved by a federal bankruptcy judge, requires the Sackler family to pay as much as $6 billion, with $750 million for victims and their survivors. Most of the rest will go to state and local governments to fight the crisis. 

Fake pill bottles with messages about OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma are displayed during a protest outside the courthouse where the bankruptcy of the company is taking place in White Plains, N.Y., on Aug. 9, 2021. (AP Photo / Seth Wenig, File)

In all, the plan could be more than $10 billion over time. It calls for members of the Sackler family to give up control of the Stamford, Connecticut-based company so it can be turned into a new entity with profits used to fight the opioid crisis.

(Bruno / Germany via Pixabay)

Local advocates say so-called safe injection sites – safe havens for people to use drugs with protections against fatal overdoses – are crucial, especially with a rise in overdoses amid the pandemic.

Supplies are shown on a desk at Safer Inside, a realistic model of a safe injection site in San Francisco, Aug. 29, 2018. (AP Photo / Eric Risberg, File)

A year after winning a major court battle against the opening of so-called safe injection sites — safe havens for people to use heroin and other narcotics with protections against fatal overdoses — the Justice Department is signaling it might be open to allowing them.