Friends and family will be now able to take the first step to save a loved one from an overdose of heroin or powerful painkillers called opioids, including OxyContin and Vicodin. The Food and Drug Administration has approved an easy-to-use device that automatically injects the right dose of an overdose antidote named naloxone before an ambulance arrives. Doctors could prescribe it for family members or caregivers to keep on hand, in a pocket or a medicine cabinet. Once the credit card-sized device, called Evzio, is turned on, it provides verbal instructions.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a statement that 16,000 people die every year due to opioid-related overdoses, and that drug overdose deaths are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States, surpassing motor vehicle crashes. "While the larger goal is to reduce the need for products like these by preventing opioid addiction and abuse, they are extremely important innovations that will help to save lives," she said. (Read more OxyContin stories.)