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Aug 08, 2014 03:21 AM EDT

UK Pharmacy Professor Develops Nasal Spray to Fight Heroin Overdose

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Daniel Wermeling, a University of Kentucky professor of pharmacy practice and science, has developed a nasal spray to reduce deaths from heroin and other opioid abuse.

The product, a nasal spray application of the anti-opioid drug naloxone, is currently in its final round of clinical trials and could be available as early as next year.

Emergency rooms and medical technicians across the country use naloxone as the standard treatment to reverse suspected fatal opioid overdoses. Currently, the drug is administered by injection.

However, the nasal spray is a quicker and easier method by eliminating the need for needles. The product administers a stable dose into the nose of an overdose victim. The drug is absorbed across the nasal membranes even if the patient is not conscious.

"The goal is to make the medication available to patients at high risk of opioid overdose, and to caregivers, including family members, who may lack specialized medical training," Wermeling, who also is a UK alumnus, said in a press release. "The treatment could be given in anticipation of EMS arrival, advancing the continuum of care and ultimately saving lives."

UK President Eli Capilouto said that the innovation highlights the three main components of the school's mission - "education, research and, above all, service. Too many Kentucky families have experienced the tragedy of seeing a loved one's life cut short by a drug overdose."

UK College of Pharmacy Dean Timothy S. Tracy said that Dr. Wermeling's project is not only important to the University, but also to the future of Common wealth and to create a healthier Kentucky communities.

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