Opioid Antidote Becoming More Easily Available for General Public
All Thom Duddy wants is for people to be able to save lives with the push of a button.
And Duddy, director of communications for Adapt Pharma, said his company’s Narcan nasal delivery system is the most foolproof way to save the life of someone overdosing on opioids.
The drug in the device, naloxone, isn’t new — first responders and medical providers have used naloxone for more than 40 years to reverse the effects of opioid overdose. Sometimes it’s injected, sometimes given through an IV, other times given in the nose.
The name isn’t new, either. Narcan was the original brand name for naloxone before it was available generically.
Even the device used to deliver the premeasured drug through the nasal cavity has been used before, to dispense a migraine medication.
But the increased need for the public to have naloxone available and feel comfortable using it — that’s new, Duddy said.
Adapt acquired the push-button device after seeing data that showed a huge jump in opioid overdose deaths between 2013-2014, he said. It started marketing nasal-spray Narcan in February 2016.
“Before, naloxone was predominantly used by EMS workers and first responders and hospital folks, but most overdoses occur at home or around someone who is witnessing the overdose,” Duddy said. “We wanted to create a product that anyone could use, with no medical training.”
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The device, which retails for $125 for two doses of 4 mg each and is covered by Medicaid and most insurance policies, comes with a paper insert outlining a simple three-step process: Confirm the person is overdosing. Place the device in the nasal cavity and push the button to spray naloxone. Call 911 for help.
For those who want a detailed demonstration, numerous videos are available online, and there’s an instructional video — along with the “quick” instructions — on the free Narcan Now app, available for Apple and Android devices.
That app also has a “locator” telling people where they can buy the drug. Tennessee is among states that no longer require a prescription to buy naloxone, and the state Department of Health recently reached a Collaborative Pharmacy Practice Agreement with pharmacists around the state to dispense the drug.
More: Tennessee makes naloxone available without Rx
All CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid pharmacies can dispense naloxone in Narcan and other forms of naloxone, as can 54 pharmacists at independent pharmacies including Belew Drugs in Knoxville and surrounding areas, Victory Pharmacies in the Knoxville area, Vonore Pharmacy, City Drug Store in Maryville, Baggett Pharmacy in Kingston, Smith Drug Store in Rutledge, Medicine Shoppes in Jonesborough and Mosheim, Pinney’s Prescription Shop in Kingsport, Largo Pharmacies in Cookeville and Livingston, Family Wellness Pharmacy in Cookeville, R and M Family Pharmacy in Livingston, Gibbs Pharmacy in Lebanon, Rural Physician Partners in Franklin, Comprehensive Wellness Pharmacy and Sango Pharmacy in Clarksville, Health and Wellness Compounding Pharmacy in Nashville, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Duddy said through a partnership with the Clinton Foundation, Adapt has offered to give one free box of Narcan (two doses) to every high school in the country, and four boxes (eight doses) to every U.S. college or university. Additional doses would be at the “public interest price” of $75 for two doses offered to emergency responders and community nonprofits.
The price for the generic version of the drug, without the Narcan device, typically starts at around $30 retail.
More: Agencies: More than 200 naloxone calls in January
Duddy said not everyone needs 4 mg of naloxone to stop an overdose — in fact, paramedics often use less because their goal is typically to restore breathing without completely waking a patient up.
But he said the company went with the higher dose because of the increasing number of people overdosing on fentanyl and other potent synthetic opioids.
"They require more naloxone" to reverse the overdose, he said.