New nasal spray to reverse fentanyl and different opioid overdoses will get FDA approval

WASHINGTON — U.S. well being regulators on Monday authorized a brand new easy-to-use model of a medicine to reverse overdoses brought on by fentanyl and different opioids driving the nation’s drug disaster.

Opvee is just like naloxone, the life-saving drug that has been used for many years to shortly counter overdoses of heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers. Each work by blocking the results of opioids within the mind, which may restore regular respiration and blood stress in individuals who have lately overdosed.

The Meals and Drug Administration endorsed Opvee, a nasal spray replace of the drug nalmefene, which was first authorized as an injection within the mid-Nineties however later faraway from the market because of low gross sales. Naloxone comes as each a nasal spray and injection.

It’s not instantly clear how the brand new drug might be used otherwise in comparison with naloxone, and a few specialists see potential downsides to its longer-acting impact. The drug might be out there through prescription and is authorized for sufferers 12 and older.

In research funded by the federal authorities, Opvee achieved related restoration outcomes to Narcan, the main model of naloxone nasal spray.

Opvee was developed by Opiant Prescribed drugs, which was lately acquired by rival Indivior, maker of a number of medicines for opioid dependancy. Indivior expects to launch Opvee in October on the earliest.

Because the opioid epidemic has shifted to fentanyl and different artificial opioids, researchers within the pharmaceutical trade and the U.S. authorities noticed a brand new function for the drug.

As a result of fentanyl stays within the physique longer than heroin and different opioids, some individuals could require a number of doses of naloxone over a number of hours to completely reverse an overdose.

Scientists on the Nationwide Institutes of Well being labored with pharmaceutical researchers on a nasal spray model of nalmefene that may shortly resuscitate customers, whereas additionally defending them from relapse. Testing and growth was funded by greater than $18 million in grants from the U.S. authorities’s Biomedical Superior Analysis and Improvement Authority and the NIH, which additionally helped design the research.

“The entire goal of this was to have a medicine that may last more but in addition attain into the mind very quickly,” mentioned Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse.

Nonetheless, some specialists see potential downsides.

A aspect impact of all opioid reversal medicine is that they create intense withdrawal signs together with nausea, diarrhea, muscle cramps and anxiousness. With naloxone, these signs would possibly final 30 to 40 minutes.

Dr. Lewis Nelson of Rutgers College says these issues can final six hours or extra with nalmefene, requiring additional remedy and administration by well being professionals.

“The danger of long-lasting withdrawal could be very actual and we attempt to keep away from it,” mentioned Nelson, an emergency medication doctor and former adviser to the FDA on opioids.

Nelson mentioned it is easy sufficient to offer a second or third dose of naloxone if it wears off.

“We’re not affected by a naloxone scarcity the place we have to use an alternate,” he mentioned. “Now we have loads of it and it really works completely effectively.”

The FDA approval comes as drug overdose deaths inched up barely final 12 months after two massive leaps in the course of the pandemic. Greater than 109,000 deadly overdoses have been recorded in 2022, in accordance with the most recent figures from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

Greater than two-thirds of these deaths have been linked to fentanyl and different artificial opioids, which have largely changed heroin and prescription opioids.

Naloxone has lengthy been on the middle of presidency efforts to struggle the overdose disaster on the federal and native ranges. Police, firefighters and different first responders routinely carry the drug. And officers in all 50 states have given orders to pharmacists to promote or dispense the drug with no prescription to anybody who needs it.

Within the newest federal push, the FDA lately authorized Narcan to be bought over-the-counter. The change will permit the brand new model of the drug to be stocked in grocery shops, merchandising machines and different retail areas. The nasal spray — which incorporates up to date directions for normal customers — is predicted to launch this summer season. Emergent Biosolutions hasn’t but introduced a worth for the over-the-counter model.

Indivior mentioned it’s nonetheless contemplating what to cost for its drug. It would compete in the identical market as naloxone, the place most patrons are native governments and group teams that distribute to first responders and people prone to overdose. Indivior has informed traders that Opvee may finally generate annual gross sales between $150 million to $250 million.


The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives help from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Instructional Media Group. The AP is solely chargeable for all content material.


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