The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced recently that it has approved a higher dose naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray product to treat opioid overdose. The newly approved product delivers 8 milligrams (mg) of naloxone into the nasal cavity. The FDA had previously approved 2 mg and 4 mg naloxone nasal spray products.
Naloxone is a medicine that can be administered by individuals with or without medical training to help reduce opioid overdose deaths. If naloxone is administered quickly, it can counter the opioid overdose effects, usually within minutes. A higher dose of naloxone provides an additional option in the treatment of opioid overdoses.
“Today’s action meets another critical need in combatting opioid overdose,” said Patrizia Cavazzoni, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Addressing the opioid crisis is a top priority for the FDA, and we will continue our efforts to increase access to naloxone and place this important medicine in the hands of those who need it most.”
Over the last several years, the FDA has taken a number of steps to improve availability of naloxone products, including: encouraging manufacturers to pursue approval of over-the-counter naloxone products; requiring drug manufacturers for all opioid pain relievers and medicines to treat opioid use disorder to add new recommendations about naloxone to the prescribing information; and extending the shelf life of naloxone nasal spray from 24 months to 36 months.
The FDA says it focuses particularly on decreasing exposure to opioids and preventing new addiction; fostering the development of novel pain treatment therapies; supporting treatment of those with opioid use disorder; and improving enforcement and assessing benefit-risk.
The use of naloxone in patients who are opioid-dependent may result in opioid withdrawal characterized by body aches, diarrhea, increased heart rate (tachycardia), fever, runny nose, sneezing, goose bumps (piloerection), sweating, yawning, nausea or vomiting, nervousness, restlessness or irritability, shivering or trembling, abdominal cramps, weakness and increased blood pressure.