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Nasal Spray That Reverses Opiate Overdose Approved by FDA

  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    A nasal spray that treats narcotic painkiller and heroin drug overdoses has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    The newly approved nasal spray (Narcan) contains the medication naloxone hydrochloride, which can stop or reverse the effects of a narcotic (also called opioid) drug overdose. Narcan is the first approved nasal spray version of the medication and offers an important new easy-to-use treatment option for family members and first responders dealing with a heroin or narcotic painkiller overdose, the FDA said.

    Narcotic painkillers include prescription pain drugs such as oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (when combined with acetaminophen, it's called Vicodin or Percocet) and morphine. Narcan can also reverse the effects of heroin.

    Drug overdose deaths are currently the leading cause of injury death in the United States, the FDA said. Every day, 44 Americans die from a prescription narcotic painkiller overdose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    In narcotic painkiller and heroin overdoses, it can be difficult to awaken the person. Breathing may become shallow or stop, resulting in death if there is no medical help. When administered quickly, naloxone can counter the overdose effects, usually within two minutes, according to the FDA.

    Previously, naloxone was only approved in injectable forms, such as syringes or auto-injectors. However, there was widespread use of unapproved kits that enabled the drug to be delivered nasally.

    "Combating the opioid abuse epidemic is a top priority for the FDA," Dr. Stephen Ostroff, FDA acting commissioner, said in an agency news release.

    "We cannot stand by while Americans are dying. While naloxone will not solve the underlying problems of the opioid epidemic, we are speeding to review new formulations that will ultimately save lives that might otherwise be lost to drug addiction and overdose," he said.

    Clinical trials showed that spraying Narcan in one nostril delivered about the same or higher levels of naloxone as a single dose of a naloxone injection. The drug can be given to adults or children, the FDA said.

    However, the FDA cautioned that once the drug has been given, people should seek immediate medical treatment. The drug is not meant to replace medical care.

    Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, said this new formulation will no doubt save many lives. "While prevention is the ultimate goal, the drug's successful development illustrates how public/private scientific partnerships can play an important role in responding to a national crisis right now," she said in the news release.

    Narcan is marketed by Pennsylvania-based Adapt Pharma, Inc.

    Consumer Health/Nov. 19, 2015
    Photo: Wbur.org
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. gonzochef
    This is a cool idea! Nice to think about being able to come from an OD without getting another needle jabbed into you. One question, though: wouldn't you have to be awake to use a nasal spray??
  2. Bango Skank
    Gonzo, I'm pretty sure the idea is for someone else to administer it to the patient. Gonzo, have you known any users to keep narcan handy? Seems like something that needle exchanges should be passing out for free, but maybe there's a reason why not. I'm kinda surprised that in my area, the police started carrying narcan very recently, but the stuff has been around for years.

    What a good idea making it a nasal spray! The mucous membranes in the nose can move some drugs to the bloodstream pretty damn fast. Maybe being available with this route will make it more available to the general public.

    I like the way this article was written, one little booboo where they said vicodin and percocet are the same drug lol, but overall it answered any questions I'd have about the nasal spray.
  3. gonzochef
    Actually I carry Narcan and clean needle specifically for that. Many Seattle users do, our needle exchange hands it out and has info and seminars on when and how to administer it. When my dad found out I was using again and we were waiting to get me on methadone I was still using (and he was paying for it for a couple weeks until my methadone appointment) so I got him a bottle and syringe and explained how he should do it for me if something happened. He STILL has it, just in case. I agree that it should be universally administered at needle exchanges.

    Also, I get that someone else would be administering it, but would it require you to "breathe in" through your nose to work? I mean, when I use nasal spray I don't just spray it up there, I snort it, you know? Just wondering, but I suppose you are right with all the mucous membranes it would still probably work if just sprayed into the nose of an unconscious person. Hahaha I really didn't mean for the person to do it themselves :p
  4. TheBigBadWolf
    It's a good step to have laymen handle narcan - I've been talking about that with my doctor recently and she said she is very pro prescribing ampoules to users on high methadone doses, or who have contact to high-risk users (i.v. injectors).

    That it's now available as a nasal spray will save even more lives than the ampoules have already done.

    No fumbling around to hit a vein on an unconscious person. I would have problems with that although I am a versed injector ..
    Putting that thingy to the nose and release the narcan - I can't imagine a better way of administration.

    Definitely at least half a minute faster than hitting a vein - half a minute less for the patient/user to stay overdosed.


    Gonzo - no need to snort or breathe in at all. Mucous membranes dont need that you snort the stuff, contact is enough. One might as well administer it rectally - if the rectum is empty from feces it should work the same ..
  5. gonzochef
    Good to know BBW. Also, why would you have to find a vein? The Narcan I've always seen and used has been for intramuscular use.
  6. Bango Skank
    That's awesome Gonzo and BBW, I was under the impression that it wasn't so easy to come by for the average person, and was more likely to just be found with first responders.

    So it's now approved. So it should be available for purchase within the next few days hopefully. I want to get a few for some friends and keep one handy myself just in case.
  7. gonzochef
    That's a wise idea Bango. When my exchange started giving them out I took handfuls of them downtown and started handing them out like candy. I truly hope that that action saved a life or two... I think all users and abusers of opiates should have this and have their friends know where it is kept and how it is used, just in case. Avoiding an OD is always best, but reversing one is a very close second in my opinion.
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