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AKIPRESS.COM - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a device that reverses the effects of overdoses from opioids, including heroin and prescription painkillers, The Voice of Russia reported.
Opioids include legal prescription painkillers, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, as well as illegal drugs like heroin.
Called Evzio, the emergency treatment works like the well-known EpiPen – an auto-injector for serious allergic reactions – it is injected into the muscle and does not require training. Evzio administers the drug naloxone that has long been used in ambulances and emergency rooms to treat opioid overdoses. Now Evzio allows caregivers, family members and non-medical personnel to keep naloxone on hand, in a pocket or a medicine cabinet. The device requires a prescription. The FDA said Evzio's design makes it easy for anyone to administer. Once Evzio is turned on, it provides verbal instructions and is about the size of a credit card or small cellphone.
It comes in a kit that costs about $60. With a shelf life of two years, every kit has two pre-filled syringes of the drug, along with other items to help use it safely.
Naloxone is effective because it reverses the slowed-down breathing that leads to death during an overdose, Douglas Throckmorton, deputy director for regulatory programs with the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said.
If someone is given naloxone who is not overdosing from an opioid, the dose available in the Evzio device will not hurt them, Throckmorton added.
However, Evzio is not a substitute for immediate medical care, the FDA says.
More than 16,000 people died in the U.S. in 2010 due to opioid-related overdoses, driven largely by prescription drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.