The friends and family of heroin addicts have a new way to administer the overdose-countering drug naloxone. This week, the FDA approved Evzio, a new “noloxone autoinjector”. The strange part? It talks.
Naloxone is usually administered by medical personnel when they respond to an overdose call. The administration of naloxone involves a syringe (needle), and can be dangerous if not done correctly. That’s one of the reasons naloxone use has been restricted in the past, limited to Advanced Life Support (ALS) trained EMTs only.
Evzio’s manufacturer kaléo says its product is intended for the untrained. Evzio starts talking when it’s turned on, telling its operator how to properly administer naloxone to someone experiencing an overdose. Evzio also comes with written instructions and a training device.
The friends and family of addicts are meant to administer Evzio between the time they call 9-1-1 and emergency help arrives. The early injection of naloxone could increase an addict’s chances of survival during an overdose.
Skeptics wonder if a talking device will make a difference during a life or death crisis. In an emergency, does anyone read the paper instructions? Does anyone pause and listen carefully to spoken directions? In what language? If you miss a word, do you have to wait for it to “say it again” (and if so, for how long?).
Critics say that naloxone is not the “magic shot” many people seem to believe it is, and that proper emergency medical management of the victim’s airway is one example of a more important issue, which would not be addressed.
The FDA announced it fast-tracked Evzio’s approval because of an “unmet medical need” for an easy-to-use way to deliver naloxone. The increase in prescription painkiller and heroin overdose deaths has increased demand for overdose-countering drugs like naloxone. In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie approved a pilot program this week to supply police with naloxone kits in their cars.
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