A faulty piece in the dispensing mechanism of a nasal spray version of naloxone, a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses, has resulted in a recall of kits delivered to county health departments across the state.
The recall includes 200 kits received by the Jackson County Health Department.
Lin Montgomery, public health coordinator, said the health department has not distributed any of the naloxone to the public and is now waiting to receive new atomizers.
The atomizer is the piece that turns the naloxone into a fine mist that can be administered into the nostrils of someone who is suspected of overdosing on heroin or other opioids.
Montgomery said the medication itself is not faulty and will be kept until new atomizers can replace the faulty ones. She doesn’t know how long that will take.
“We’re waiting for the manufacturer to do the paperwork so that we can send it back and get a new supply,” she said. “It’s really unfortunate because we’re anxious to get this out to people who want it.”
The same day she received the recall notice, before Thanksgiving, Montgomery said she was providing training on how to use the kits to Seymour Community School Corp. staff. People are required to go through training before receiving a kit, she said.
When she went to demonstrate how the medication is administered, it sprayed out in a stream instead of a fine mist.
“That’s how I knew we had a faulty batch,” she said.
Because the naloxone supply is limited, Montgomery said the local health department set priorities on how to distribute the kits.
“We felt the schools needed to have one available and then the volunteer fire departments that make medical runs,” she said.
The Seymour Police Department and Jackson County Sheriff’s Department received a supply of naloxone made available through Schneck Medical Center in June 2015.
Stephanie Furlow, director of marketing and public relations at Schneck, said the hospital has not had any issues with the kits it received.
Montgomery said any remaining kits at the health department will be distributed to individuals who can’t afford to buy naloxone over the counter at a pharmacy.
People do not need a prescription to purchase naloxone over the counter, but it is expensive and is not covered under insurance, Montgomery said.
“We have 200 kits for the whole year,” she said. “That’s not going to go very far.”
Montgomery said she knows there is a need for the naloxone kits in the community. Around 75 free kits were distributed in late August at Harmony Park in Seymour. That supply was an intramuscular version given through a syringe and was provided by Overdose Lifeline Inc.
Regardless of people’s opinions on naloxone, Montgomery said it has saved lives.
“It’s controversial, and not everyone agrees with the distribution or its uses,” she said. “But any delay in getting kits and required training to the appropriate people could potentially put someone at risk.”