Naloxone Recalled – The Lifesaving Medicine can Have Harmful Effects

Naloxone use in overdose emergency

In the late 1990s, the opioid addiction epidemic began with doctors, pharmacists, and pharmaceutical drug manufacturers and distributors pushing opioid pain relievers onto the American people like never before. Practically overnight, decisions were made at very high-up medical levels to start utilizing pharmaceutical drugs as being the primary approach to pain relief amongst patients.

Suddenly, the phenomenon of pain was added as the fifth vital sign, which meant that doctors had to drastically increase their treatment of pain and make it a real priority. Unfortunately, what followed after was a rapid increase in addictions to the very painkillers that were supposed to help Americans. What followed after was an epidemic in which millions of Americans fell prey to addictions to opioid pharmaceuticals, something that Big Pharma absolutely promised the medical community would not happen.

In the early 2000s, the life-saving opioid overdose antidote naloxone, branded as Narcan, was released onto the market. This medicine was made by a company called Hospira, and it had the ability to save opioid addicts who were in the midst of an opioid overdose. It was a miracle drug. And a true miracle drug at that. Unfortunately, the life-saving medicine is being recalled all across the country by its manufacturer.

Controversy Over Naloxone

Naloxone works by restoring respiratory function to an individual who is experiencing an opioid overdose. The drug is administered through either a syringe or a nasal spray, and it essentially kick-starts an addict's heart and lungs, pulling them back from the brink of death. An estimated twenty-thousand American lives have been saved over the last fifteen years, all thanks to the use of naloxone.

However, earlier this year the Food and Drug Administration announced that Hospira had recalled their trademarked lifesaver medicine, and here’s why. Hospira said that they were recalling the drug due to:

Naloxone manufacturing

“The potential presence of embedded and loose particulate matter on the syringe plunger.”

According to the manufacturer, dying addicts receiving an injection of naloxone could experience allergic reactions, pulmonary emboli, a toxicity of some kind, and even tissue ischemia. The most important thing to remember here is that this is a defection and a fault of the applicator for naloxone, not a fault of the medicine itself.

A Life-Saving Medicine

It is important to know about faults and recalls like this, but we can’t take them so far as to believe that naloxone is “not good” or that it is in some way bad. That could not be further from the truth. Rather, naloxone is still a lifesaving product and is still absolutely needed.

The drug was once only available in hospitals. Now, EMTs and paramedics carry it with them, essentially wherever they go. Even some police officers keep the life-saving medicine in their squad vehicles. Some schools even have it in the nurse’s office. In fact, in some states that have been hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic, naloxone is available for over-the-counter purchase, so the family members and loved ones of drug addicts can have access to the drug pretty easily.

Hospira Headquarters
Hospira Headquarters

Hospira needs to effectively recall and replace any naloxone that was shipped out with defective syringe applicators. The nasal applicator version of this drug has not been recalled, and it is still available and usable today. Once the defective products are recalled, Hospira needs to correct their applicator units for the syringe form of the drug, and then get this medicine back out there. And they need to do all of this pretty quickly too. The lives of thousands depend on them to do so.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.