EVZIO may have unintended consequences

Morgan White
Opinion Editor

It’s the mundane moments. It’s the moments of depression, of anger, of feeling nothing short of lost. That’s when I wish I could lose myself in the recreational use of drugs or alcohol. I don’t idolize the guy who tripped on acid in order to create the art I consume. I idolize the people who go in alone, who seek no escape when the pressure on top of them is unbearable. Coming face to face with whatever fear is approaching you without the aid of substances, it’s like David facing Goliath with only a slingshot in hand.

Illustration by Dan Nacu

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 100 people die every day in the United States from drug overdoses. About 45 of those deaths are from prescription opioids. Almost 3 out of 4 prescription drug deaths are caused from pain killers. In 2010, around 16,500 people died from opioid drug overdoses — drugs that include hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and methadone. To say that this is a problem is an understatement. Recently EVZIO, a take-home naloxone auto-injector, has been commercialized by Kaléo. Naloxone is a drug that was developed in the ’60s to combat opioid overdoses.

What the auto-injector allows the usual patient prescribed painkillers is the ability to treat themselves in case of accidental overdose. Kaléo, the company responsible for the development of this miracle drug, is located in Richmond, Virginia. On Oct. 27 Kaléo released a statement that announced a new donation program which would allow qualifying local law enforcement agencies to receive the drug without being charged. The Henrico County Sheriff’s Office was the first department to receive this donation.

Another reason why this drug is such an important step forward is its ability to combat heroin overdoses as well. Richmond icon David Brockie who was better known by his Gwar stage name Oderus Urangus, was killed by an accidental heroin overdose on March 27. While Brockie’s death may have been the most well-known incident of death from a heroin overdose in Richmond, he was far from the only casualty. According to a June 9 Richmond Times-Dispatch article, in 2012 Richmond Police saw 35 heroin overdoses, seven of which were fatal.

During the first half of 2014, Richmond Police saw 21 heroin overdoses, eight of which were fatal. Given the same time range, Henrico recorded 28 heroin overdoses of which two were fatal, Hanover had 13 overdoses and two deaths and Chesterfield had 12 overdoses and two deaths. Collectively in the first half of 2014 within the vicinity, 14 deaths were caused by heroin overdoses. We have been supplied the antidote to begin combating these deaths.

The EVZIO take-home naloxone auto-injector is nothing short of an incredible development to be taken advantage of in our community. Aside from usual side effects to naloxone (including hypertension, hypotension, ventricular tachycardia and cardiac arrest, which could all lead to death) we must fear the possibility of opioids being potentially safer in case of overdose, and that there will be a population out there who views this as the thing that allows them to dance with their demons a little longer.

There’s no factual information that can validate the claims of the guy at the party with a bag of pills telling you that abusing them isn’t that bad. It’s not much different from my friend who drinks regularly while on anti-depressants and replies to you that doctors only tell you not to drink while you’re on them to keep them from having the one-in-a-million chance of a lawsuit. If we’re dealing with heroin and painkiller addicts then there is definitely the chance that, when they are approached about giving up what they have been hooked on, they will use this as another excuse to abuse themselves.

That is merely the personality of an addict. One thing leads to the next and eventually where it ends up is in a fight to take back their life from whatever had a hold of it in the first place. I don’t want to suggest that this EVZIO take-home naloxone auto-injector is in any way a bad thing. I merely think that we need to consider the unintended consequences of another step forward. 

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