Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois and others are hoping to help reduce the number of heroin overdose deaths by pushing the FDA to approve a drug called Naloxone or more commonly, Narcan. Narcan is the nasal form of Naloxone which can be used by first responders to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.
Kirk is pushing for the suburbs to join the fight in getting the drug approved by the federal government because heroin kills one person every three days in the suburbs of Illinois. If Narcan is approved in Illinois it could save many lives that would otherwise succumb to the poisonous effects of heroin and other opiates.
When first responders are provided with Naloxone and proper training on how to use it effectively, addicts can avoid the fatal consequences of their drug use.
Preventing Overdose Death with Narcan
Suburbs of Illinois such as Cook County and Dupage County have seen the biggest jump in heroin deaths in the past couple of years. The coroner of Dupage County, Dr. Richard Jorgenson, is hoping to see the federal government speed up the process of approving Narcan because it could save lives.
Jorgenson says that in the 43 uses of the drug in the area, not one person given Narcan has gone on to die from an overdose. Other suburban areas like Lake County are hoping the FDA will approve the drug quickly before more people die.
Some responders have already been using Naloxone and have more recently switched to the easier and more cost-effective nasal spray version. Instead of using a needle for injection, responders can apply the nasal spray in one step and it costs only $16 rather than the $290 auto injection form.
Getting FDA Approval in Chicago
Although many first responders in Dupage County and other suburban areas in Illinois have already begun using the nasal spray, Senator Kirk is seeking the FDA’s approval because of possible liability concerns. The injectable version of the drug is FDA approved but the nasal spray has yet to be reviewed by the government.
He is asking Obama to green light the approval of Narcan as quickly as possible so first responders can safely administer the drug without worrying about issues of liability. Kirk hosted a summit focusing on the heroin overdose epidemic in the Chicago area on Monday in an effort to get more people on board for seeking FDA approval.
Coroners, prosecutors and others in the suburban communities joined the Senator in his push for Narcan to be used for heroin overdose. Felicia Miceli, a member of the Dupage County community, is supporting the effort after losing her son two years ago to an overdose. David Cohen is on board with the fight because Narcan saved his life.
Now the director of clinical services at Betty Ford in Chicago, Cohen says the government should also offer help with treatment for addiction. Saving lives from overdose is only the first step; addicts must also follow up with rehabilitation.
Hundreds of lives are lost in Chicago and the suburbs surrounding the city every year due to heroin overdose. Senator Kirk has called this problem an epidemic that must be addressed in any way possible.
With one person dying every three days from overdose, it is important for first responders to be equipped and trained to use cost effective drugs like Narcan to prevent more lives from being lost. Narcan nasal spray is still pending approval and Kirk is pushing the FDA to get the drug through so that no more time is wasted in the struggle against heroin addiction.