07 Sep Naloxone in a Nasal Spray
Naloxone is a life-saving drug, often called the overdose antidote. It can be injected into someone overdosing on heroin or other opioid drugs to reverse the effects of the drugs and bring the victim back from near-death. With heroin abuse rates skyrocketing across the country, access to naloxone, which is a prescription medication, is becoming increasingly important. In addition to gaining access, it helps if the antidote is easy to use for anyone without medical training. A new device for delivering naloxone easily and to an unconscious victim is just around the corner.
Naloxone and Overdose
Naloxone, which also goes by the brand name Narcan, is a drug that belongs to the opioid class. These are drugs derived from the opium poppy and include heroin as well as prescription painkillers like hydrocodone, oxycodone and oxymorphone. All of these drugs are highly addictive and affect millions of people every year. As addiction to painkillers grew rapidly, drug makers and lawmakers alike cracked down on the over-prescribing.
Addicts have since turned to cheaper and more readily available heroin. Now people are overdosing and dying from both prescription painkillers and heroin. Over the last ten years, these drugs have killed around 125,000 people in the U.S. alone. Naloxone is related to the opioids, but it doesn’t give the user a high or cause addiction. Instead, it reverses the actions of narcotic painkillers and heroin in the body and can save someone who is about to die from an overdose.
Access to Naloxone and a New Nasal Spray
Naloxone won’t cure anyone of opioid addiction, but it can save lives and give an addict another chance to turn things around. Emergency workers, first responders and drug clinics often have access to naloxone, but some people want to see its access expanded even further. States where the problem of overdosing is especially high, like Ohio and Kentucky, are working to make sure lay people can get and use the drug as well. They have passed laws allowing people at high risk for overdose to get the medication.
A new device may make Naloxone easier to use for people who don’t have medical training, but also for those who do. A professor from the University of Kentucky, Daniel Wermeling, developed a nasal spray that can easily deliver naloxone to a victim, even if that victim is unconscious. An injection of naloxone is not as easy to use, especially for someone untrained in using needles.
First responders have already used atomizers to make naloxone easier to use. Dr. Wermeling’s invention should take that idea to the next level. It will come in a single-use delivery system that can be inserted into the nasal passage. One press will give the victim a consistent and absorbable dose. Dr. Wermeling is hoping to get his device into fast-track review through the Food and Drug Administration so that it can get out to the public and save lives. Right now the nasal spray device is still being tested, but is nearly ready for its last clinical trial.
Opioid overdoses are serious and life threatening and can happen on a person’s first encounter with a drug. While the overdose antidote will not cure anyone with an addiction, it can save thousands of lives every year. For every life saved, another addict has the opportunity to get help and treatment for this terrible disease. With advances in naloxone technology, saving lives becomes easier and more likely.
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