Family, friends, or passersby who encounter a person passed out from a heroin or other opioid overdose could soon be able to administer a drug to reverse the effects before waiting for first responders to arrive.
The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it approved an auto-injector device, called Evzio, to administer naloxone hydrochloride. It can be carried in a pocket or stored in a medicine cabinet and will be available by prescription this summer.
“This is an extremely important innovation that will save lives,” Dr. Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the FDA, said.
It comes a week after Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency to combat the growing abuse of opiates and recent spike in heroin deaths in the state; his declaration allows police and other emergency personnel to carry Narcan, a form of naloxone administered as an injection or formulated into a nasal spray (which is not FDA approved).
Health officials in Massachusetts began distributing the nasal spray in 2006 to those most likely to witness an overdose, including outreach workers, homeless shelter operators, addicts, and more recently, family members.
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