On Thursday, the FDA announced that it granted approval for Evzio, the first hand-held auto-injector for naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdose.
Before this approval, naloxone was primarily available to emergency responders and physicians using a syringe.
This new delivery method is designed for use by family members or caregivers who suspect an opioid drug overdose.
Once opened, the device gives audible instructions on how to inject the antidote into a patient who is suspected of overdosing. Signs of opioid overdose are:
- Decreased breathing
- Decreased heart rate
- Loss of consciousness
Caregivers who administer Evzio must get their patient to the hospital immediately after using the antidote for further care, as the effects of the opioids may outlast the effects of Evzio.
The opioid problem
No doubt prescription opioids are essential to help people recovering from a severe back injury or surgery. Long-term use, however, can lead to tolerance and/or addiction.
Overdose may occur when patients take a prescription medication in a way that is inconsistent with the doctor’s orders. Commonly prescribed opioids are:
- Codeine (e.g. Tylenol #3)
- Hydrocodone (e.g. Vicodin)
- Oxycodone (e.g. Percocet, Oxycontin)
Death from drug overdose in the United States is now the leading cause of death from injury, surpassing the death toll from car crashes. The main factor behind this epidemic is death from prescription drug overdose, but deaths from heroin overdoses (also an opioid) are also on the rise.
Ideally, people who are in chronic pain because of a back injury can seek alternative ways to help manage their discomfort. If you are a family member or a caretaker of someone who is addicted to opioids, consider asking their doctor for a prescription of Evzio. Having it available may help save a life.