The FDA approved Narcan nasal spray, the first FDA-approved nasal spray version of naloxone hydrochloride, a life-saving medication that can stop or reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Opioids are a class of drugs that include prescription medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine, as well as the illegal drug heroin.
Drug overdose deaths, driven largely by prescription drug overdoses, are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States – surpassing motor vehicle crashes. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the number of drug overdose deaths had steadily increased for more than a decade. When someone overdoses on an opioid, it can be difficult to awaken the person, and breathing may become shallow or stop – leading to death if there is no medical intervention. If naloxone is administered quickly, it can counter the overdose effects, usually within two minutes.
The use of Narcan nasal spray in patients who are opioid dependent may result in severe 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.
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