Kentucky Researcher Creates Nasal Spray that Could Lower Number of Overdose Deaths

Aug 7, 2014

A nasal spray developed a Kentucky researcher is designed to reduce the number of heroin related overdoses. The invention by University of Kentucky pharmacy professor Daniel Wermeling has been fast-tracked by the Food and Drug Administration and is in its final round of clinical trials.

Wermeling’s goal was to create an easier way to administer the drug Naloxone, which can reverse potentially fatal heroin overdoses. He has been working on the nasal spray since 2009, with support from a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, with additional funding from the Kentucky Science and Technology Corp.

If the F.D.A gives final approval to the product, it could be available by prescription as early as next year.

Wermeling believes the nasal spray will be a much easier way to treat patients, as opposed to injecting them with the drug.

"When we look at other drugs that have been developed as an injection, it's usually a needle free system that was approved afterwards, that actually becomes more adopted by the public,” the U.K. Professor said.

Wermeling also thinks says the invention could be prescribed for at-risk patients on pain medications.

"If there is an at risk member in the household, when the doctor is considering prescribing one of these opioids like oxycontin or methodone, things like this.  And there are risk factors in the household for overdose, then the doctor should consider co-prescribing, and that's a term now, co-prescribing naloxone with the opioid."

If the nasal spray becomes commercially available, it could prove to be a help to Kentucky, which has the nation's third-highest drug overdose mortality rate. The state has also seen a recent spike in the number of heroin-related overdose deaths.