In the midst of a U.S. epidemic of opioid abuse, knowing how to quickly administer the anti-overdose drug naloxone could save a life.
Now, research finds that delivering naloxone via nasal spray could be the quickest and easiest of three methods of administration.
“Our goal was to see if there was a method that was the most intuitive,” said William Eggleston, a clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Binghamton University, State University of New York.
The antidote may eventually be available everywhere without a prescription, but right now little is known about the ability of people in the general population to administer it.
The study included untrained people who were asked to administer naloxone (commonly known as Narcan) to a dummy using one of three methods: a preloaded nasal spray; an intramuscular shot; or an improvised nasal atomizer kit that requires assembly of three pieces before use. All three types are used by naloxone community programs in the United States.
The researchers set up a station with a dummy in a public area, and as people checked it out, they were invited to help out with the study.
The goal was to mimic an overdose situation in a public setting with distractions. Participants received no instructions on how to deliver the naloxone to the dummy.
Successful administration of naloxone was defined as completion within seven minutes without critical errors, Eggleston explained in a university news release.
Median administration time was 16 seconds for the nasal spray, meaning half took longer, and nearly a minute for the shot. The improvised nasal atomizer kit was the most difficult to use, according to the study published recently in the journal Pharmacotherapy.
“When someone is not breathing, every second counts,” Eggleston said. “If naloxone becomes available over the counter, our study highlights the importance of training resources, like pharmacists, public health campaigns and community resources. It also shows that the nasal spray product is the most intuitive to use and easiest to give quickly.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more on naloxone.