On November 18, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quickly moved to approve a nasal spray version of naloxone hydrochloride. This is the first nasal spray that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. FDA Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, MD, announced that “Combating the opioid abuse epidemic is a top priority for the FDA.”
As the headlines attest, opioid addiction is an issue affecting communities nationwide. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (part of the National Institutes of Health) defines opioids as “a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014 18,893 overdose deaths involved pain relievers and another 10,574 overdose deaths involved heroin. To help lower these numbers, the National Association of Counties, National Governors Association, National League of Cities, and U.S. Conference of Mayors, with the U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance and Premier, Inc., came to an agreement to offer the Narcan Nasal Spray at a 40 percent discount. The Colorado Springs, Colorado, police department recently required its police to carry the nasal spray with them and doing so has already saved a life.
To help follow the latest developments on the opioid and heroin overdose epidemic, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is regularly updating this webpage.