CHICAGO (Feb. 8, 2018) — AptarGroup and Adapt Pharma donated 4,000 doses of NARCAN® Nasal Spray today to the Illinois Department of Public Health, with another 1,000 doses scheduled to go to the McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition Friday.
NARCAN® is a brand name for naloxone hydrochloride, an emergency therapy used to reverse respiratory depression in cases of known or suspected opioid overdose. Gov. Bruce Rauner accepted the donated doses on behalf of the state today, along with Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah.
Public health officials will have a total of 3,400 doses to provide to the Illinois State Police and the Department of Corrections; an additional 600 will go to the Chicago Recovery Alliance. State troopers carry the emergency therapy in their squad cars. The Department of Corrections plans to distribute its supply among parole officers for field use.
AptarGroup, based in Crystal Lake, and Adapt, which has its U.S. headquarters in Pennsylvania, collaborated on a nasal spray system for naloxone that delivers a concentrated 4-milligram dose without any required assembly, medical training or needle injection.
“Naloxone is a life-saver,” Rauner said as the presentation was made at Chicago Recovery Alliance’s Taylor Street offices this afternoon. “We will continue to fight the root causes of this epidemic, but meanwhile, this generous donation is most welcome and appreciated.”
Rauner established the Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force — co-chaired by Sanguinetti and Shah — and took other steps late last year as alarming statistics continued to mount in Illinois and across the nation. Nearly 1,950 people died of opioid overdoses in Illinois in 2016, an 82 percent increase in just three years. Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and its analogues are disproportionately contributing to the rise in both fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the state, with a tenfold increase from 2013 to 2016.
Opioids include not only heroin but also a range of highly addictive prescription pain medications such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine and morphine.
The Rauner administration has taken multiple steps to counter the opioid epidemic in addition to establishing the task force.
In early December, the state launched an all-hours helpline for those impacted by opioid addiction. The number for the Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances is 1-833-2FINDHELP. According to the Illinois Department of Human Services, the helpline has received more than 1,200 calls to date, with many callers inquiring about naloxone.
Rauner also in December signed legislation requiring prescribers with controlled substance licenses to register with the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program and to check patients’ medical records before prescribing opioids to help prevent “doctor-shopping,” and stem the cycle of abuse.
Prescribers and pharmacists checked the system more than 2 million times in December, and the program has added more than 23,000 prescribers since Jan. 1, when the law took effect.
The lieutenant governor praised today’s Narcan donation.
“During our travels, we learned not every community and not every first responder has access to naloxone. And your ability to be saved from an overdose could depend on where you live,” said Sanguinetti, who has crisscrossed the state gathering community input on the issue. “Today’s generous donation from Adapt Pharma and AptarGroup — combined with the incredible efforts of our state departments of Public Health and Human Services to train and distribute naloxone to our residents — will go a long way to ensure access to this life-saving drug.”
“We’re seeing more synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, being mixed with drugs like heroin,” added Shah. “Because fentanyl is very poisonous, people are overdosing more often. We’re finding that law enforcement and first responders need to use multiple doses of Narcan when trying to revive a person suffering from an opioid overdose. We want to say thank you for helping to put this life-saving tool in the hands of those who are in the best position to use it.”
AptarGroup CEO Stephan Tanda said his company is proud to have developed the innovative drug delivery and dispensing solution, and happy to collaborate with Adapt, which has a U.S. headquarters in Pennsylvania.
“We are pleased to partner with Adapt Pharma, the State of Illinois, Chicago Recovery Alliance and the McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition to help address the opioid epidemic in our own backyard,” Tanda said. “Raising awareness of the crisis and making these potentially life-saving doses more accessible to those who most need them will have a lasting impact on our community.”
“Every day, hundreds of lives are forever changed by the opioid epidemic,” said Seamus Mulligan, chairman and CEO at Adapt Pharma. “NARCAN® Nasal Spray is an effective emergency treatment that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose when an adequate dose is administered in time. We are proud to work with Aptar and the State of Illinois to ensure this critical intervention tool is more readily available and in the hands of those most likely to witness an overdose.”