Law enforcement officials in Georgia have identified two new strains of the highly potent opioid fentanyl that may be immune to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The strains, called acrylfentanyl and tetrahydrofuran fentanyl, were identified by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) in March. “It is unknown how the human body will react to both drugs since they are not intended for human or veterinary use,” GBI said in a news release. “They both can be absorbed through the skin and are considered highly dangerous.” Acrylfentanyl was banned in Georgia in April.
A growing number of schools across the country are stocking the opioid overdose antidote naloxone in response to the heroin epidemic, The New York Times reports. Schools in Massachusetts, Kentucky, Connecticut and New Mexico have naloxone for emergency use. New York State provides naloxone for free to schools, and almost 250 schools in Pennsylvania have received a free supply. In Rhode Island, all middle schools and high schools must have naloxone on the premises. Any high school in the country can receive two free doses of Narcan (a brand name for the nasal spray version of naloxone), through a partnership between the drug’s producer, Adapt Pharma, and the Clinton Foundation.
The price of Evzio, a device that delivers the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, has soared from $690 in 2014 to $4,500 today for a twin-pack, Scientific American reports. Evzio talks people through the process of using the device as they inject naloxone. Evzio, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2014, accounted for almost 20 percent of the naloxone dispensed through retail outlets between 2015 and 2016. “There’s absolutely nothing that warrants them charging what they’re charging,” said Leo Beletsky, Associate Professor of Law and Health Sciences at Northeastern University in Boston. Kaleo, the company that makes Evzio, has donated more than 180,000 devices to cities, first responders and drug treatment programs. Last year, Kaleo’s donation supply ran out by July. Although the company is donating more injectors this year, the free device program could run out of supplies even sooner if the current demand continues, the...
An app that alerts people carrying the opioid overdose antidote naloxone to someone nearby who has overdosed is the winner of a competition created by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The goal of the competition was to spur innovation around the development of a low-cost, scalable, crowd-sourced mobile phone application that helps increase the likelihood that opioid users, their immediate personal networks, and first responders are able to identify and react to an overdose by administering naloxone. The winning app, called OD Help, can also interface with a breathing monitor to detect when a person is overdosing, according to CNN . It gives instructions on diagnosing an overdose and administering naloxone. The app can also notify emergency services that more help is required.
The government should call on manufacturers of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone to reduce the cost of the life-saving drug, experts write recently in the New England Journal of Medicine. Rising naloxone prices may threaten attempts to reduce opioid-related deaths, researchers from Yale University and the Mayo Clinic warn. “The challenge is as the price goes up for naloxone, it becomes less accessible for patients,” Ravi Gupta, the study’s lead author, told HealthDay . The researchers suggested a number of strategies to lower naloxone prices, including encouraging generic competition, buying in bulk and importing generics from international manufacturers. The government could also invoke a federal law that allows it to contract with a manufacturer to produce cheaper versions. The Food and Drug Administration could make naloxone an over-the-counter drug, the researchers noted.