Straight Out of Pulp Fiction: An Injection for Opioid Overdose You Can Use at Home

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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Heroin, Oxycontin or any opioid overdose is easily reversed with naloxone. You’ve seen it in the movies and it’s true, naloxone works to wake people up from the dead, well . . . most of the time. Now people won’t have to wait for paramedics to arrive or to get to the ER, it will be available as a prescription.

The FDA has approved Evzio (naloxone injection) for the emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose, which as you know manifests as respiratory and/or central nervous system depression. Evzio is the first hand-held auto-injector that quickly delivers a single dose of naloxone 0.4 mg. It is available to patients, family members or caregivers by prescription, and can be carried in a pocket or stored in a cabinet. Naloxone is a narcotic antagonist that rapidly reverses the effects of opioid overdose.

Unlike in Pulp Fiction, Evzio is given as an intramuscular or subcutaneous injection—not in the heart, that’s fiction. What is very cool, similar to defibrillators, is that once the device is turned on, verbal and visual cues are given that tell you how to administer the drug. Remember that naloxone (Evzio) is short lived and is not intended to be a substitute for seeking medical care so you still need to get help after you’ve used the injection.

Based on a study of 30 patients Evzio was given a fast track designation so it’s expected to be available this summer. Evzio will come as a pack of 2 prefilled auto-injectors and a single Trainer injector.

Question: will this make users/abusers of opioids more bold in their use, knowing they have this around? That’s the fear . . .

Dr O.

Drugs featured in this story

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