In recent years, death via drug overdose has become a leading cause of death
in the United States. In 2013 alone, over 40,000 drug overdose deaths were reported, 16,000 of which were attributed to opioid overdoses. Naloxone, an anti-overdose drug that is often called the “overdose antidote,” has been attempting to deal with this problem since its approval for use by the Food and Drug Administration in 1971. When someone goes through an opioid overdose, their breathing slows to such an extent that it may stop entirely, potentially causing brain cell damage within four minutes. As an “opioid antagonist,”
Naloxone tries to restore this lost respiration ability by reversing the effects of the opioids that caused the overdose.In 2012, Naloxone was reported to have reversed approximately 10,000 overdoses
since 1996. It’s not a shabby number by any stretch of the imagination, but a recent collaboration between the Clinton Foundation and Kaleo, a pharmaceutical company, aims to increase these numbers exponentially
, aiming to save 10,000 lives per year in the next five years.In times past, it was necessary to have a medical professional at the scene in order to administer Naloxone. Due to the rapidity at which brain cells deteriorate, medical services were potentially incapable of reaching the patient in time. This began to change in April of 2014, when the FDA approved Evzio, a Kaleo-created medical device. Evzio allows an individual to use Naloxone as an auto-injectible, so that a medical professional is no longer necessary to administer the drug. Research done by Kaleo shows that little to no training is necessary to use Evzio, and since it’s shelf-stable, the product can be stocked for up to two years, ready to use in the case of a potentially life-threatening emergency. Any individual can administer the anti-overdose medicine with Evzio, from an opioid addict’s caretaker to their family, and many more lives can be saved. The only problem with Evzio? Its price. With health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, Evzio can cost no more than thirty dollars. If an individual doesn’t have coverage and doesn’t qualify for Kaleo’s assistance program, however, prices can increase to several hundred dollars per device, something that some opiate addicts simply cannot afford.That’s where the Clinton Foundation comes in. By working together with Kaleo, they aim to lower these prices by a significant margin. Although Kaleo representatives have declined to speak of specific numbers, citing the eternal ebb and flux of federal supply pricing, they have given assurances that the rates will be as low as possible.There are still some kinks to work out in regards to the ease of access of anti-overdose medication. Although this collaboration between Kaleo and the Clinton Foundation makes Evzio cheaper and easier to acquire, supply issues for the medication itself may prove to be a problem in the coming years. Nevertheless, this collaboration will save the lives of addicts who might once have overdosed, and hopefully signals the beginning of many improvements to come.
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