The Louisiana Department of Health (DHH) received a donation of 8,640 doses for the distribution of EVZIO naloxone auto-injectors from kaléo, the Richmond, Virginia-based pharmaceutical company. EVZIO is the first and only FDA-approved naloxone product specifically indicated for the emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose as manifested by respiratory and/or central nervous system depression and is intended for immediate administration as emergency therapy in settings where opioids may be present, including outside of supervised medical settings.

The American Medical Association (AMA) recently endorsed physicians in co-prescribing naloxone with opioids. Naloxone is a lifesaving medication that can reverse opioid overdoses. There are over 300 million opioid prescriptions filled in the United States each year. EVZIO can be prescribed by physicians and has no "street" value. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report on increased heroin and opioid use across the country. As heroin abuse and dependence have increased, so have heroin-related overdose deaths.

"Through EVZIO's charitable donation, LDH has been able to expand access of naloxone, a life-saving product, to residents throughout the state," said LDH Secretary Kathy H. Kliebert. "It is important to raise awareness and attention to drug habits and intentional or unintentional drug abuse. We are coordinating with local police and fire departments throughout the state to utilize naloxone for emergency medical services."

Nearly 17,000 Americans die each year from prescription opioid overdose. Unintended drug poisoning has surpassed automobile collisions as the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., driven largely by prescription opioids. Opioid overdose can cause a person's breathing to severely slow down and even stop.

It is important to note, persons often use heroin with other substances, including marijuana, cocaine, alcohol and opioid pain relievers. This practice is particularly threatening. This year, LDH provided EVZIO's donated naloxone to nearly 40 recipients, including, fire districts and departments, and sheriff's offices around the state. Donations total over 600 boxes or 8,640 doses. Earlier this year, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed naloxone access legislation to increase access to the medication that can reverse the effects of heroin overdose.

"We are pleased to be making this donation as a part of our commitment to widen access to naloxone," said T. Spencer Williamson, CEO of kaléo. "We are honored to support the outstanding efforts of the first responder community to help save the lives of those who are experiencing an opioid overdose."

EVZIO is a pre-filled, single-use, hand-held auto-injector that works by temporarily blocking the effect of an opioid, potentially reversing the life-threatening respiratory depression and allowing the recipient to breathe more regularly. Each EVZIO device uses voice and visual cues to assist in guiding the user through the process and delivers a single 0.4 mg dose of naloxone. EVZIO is not a substitute for emergency medical care.

The CDC report shows a 63 percent increase of heroin use from 2002 to 2012. In the same years, the national rate of heroin-related overdose deaths has nearly quadrupled. This increase occurred among a broad range of demographics, including men and women, most age groups and all income levels. Groups with an increased risk for heroin abuse or dependence include men, persons aged 18 to 25 years, non-Hispanic whites and persons with an annual income less than $20,000.

Without intervention, severe clinical consequences may occur within minutes; lack of oxygen can lead to brain injury in as little as four minutes. "Opioid safety is essential. Unfortunately there are instances of prescribed medication malfunction," said LDH Assistant Secretary for Public Health J.T. Lane. "This donation grants LDH an opportunity to make a real difference in the fight against unintentional drug poisoning and overdose,"

For more information on EVZIO, visit www.EVZIO.com.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's Twitter account and Facebook.

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