Pharmacist Develops Naloxone Nasal Spray to Reverse Drug Overdoses


A University of Kentucky pharmacy professor has developed a nasal spray of naloxone (Narcan) to treat potentially fatal overdoses from heroin and prescription opioids.

A pharmacy professor at the University of Kentucky has developed a nasal spray of naloxone (Narcan) to treat potentially fatal overdoses from heroin and prescription opioids.

Although naloxone injections are currently used by emergency workers to treat overdose cases, Daniel Wermeling, PharmD, believes nasally administered naloxone is quicker and more effective.

"You can fill a prescription at one of our pharmacies and have this in your home if you have an at-risk family member," Dr. Wermeling told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Dr. Wermeling’s intranasal naloxone treatment has been in development since 2009 and is currently undergoing a final round of clinical trials. Because the drug recently received Fast Track designation from the FDA, it could be available to the public as early as next year, pending approval.

"The goal is to make the medication available to patients at high risk of opioid overdose and to caregivers, including family members, who may lack specialized medical training," Dr. Wermeling noted.

To develop intranasal naloxone, Dr. Wermeling’s company, AntiOp, collaborated with Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, Inc, which has the option to acquire all rights to the product upon its FDA approval, according to a FierceDrugDelivery report.

In a statement, Reckitt Benckiser CEO Shaun Thaxter said, "we view the FDA decision to grant Fast Track designation to AntiOp for intranasal naloxone as an exciting and positive first step toward accelerating the commercialization of a simple, ready-to-use treatment needed to address the growing epidemic of opioid overdose.”

At a recent news conference, Dr. Wermeling honed in on the fact that tougher prescription drug laws have led to more addicts turning to heroin and other opioids. Because heroin is administered with needles, he speculated that the rate of HIV/AIDS will increase as a result of needle sharing.

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