NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodBakersfield

Actions

In the fight against fentanyl overdoses, could this new tool make a difference?

Posted at 8:16 PM, Nov 08, 2023
  • Video show Opvee, opioids, and Dr. Matthew Beare, medical director for special populations at Clinica Sierra Vista in Kern.
  • In the fight against opioid addiction and overdose, a new agent has some excited about it's potential for reversing overdoses.
  • In May of this year, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new nasal spray overdose reversal medication, Opvee. Six months later, it's just barely making it's way to Kern County.

In the fight against opioid addiction and overdose, a new agent has some excited about it's potential for reversing overdoses.

In May of this year, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new nasal spray overdose reversal medication, Opvee. Six months later, it's just barely making it's way to Kern County.

"This is probably poised to become a better fit for the fentanyl world," said Dr. Matthew Beare, medical director for special populations at Clinica Sierra Vista in Kern.

Last year, fentanyl was the cause of over 250 overdose deaths in Kern County, an increase from the previous years. Beare, who has worked for years on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic, said we'll likely continue to see these numbers grow.

"The patients I'm seeing, the patients that everyone who is in the addiction world is seeing right now, they are struggling with fentanyl," he said. "Having access to this medication is going to save more lives than we have up to this point. With the analogs of fentanyl-like carfentanil, the higher potency fentanyl, I anticipate that'll happen soon and probably progress very rapidly, it's just the nature of this world."

Beare said any tool they have to prevent or reverse an overdose is powerful, but what sets the new Opvee nasal spray apart from other medications like Narcan is it's ability to remain is a patients system for a longer time.

"What we often see is someone is Narcanned in the field. Because the fentanyl is in their system for so long, they'll go back into an overdose," Beare said. "With the Nalmefene, or Opvee, it has a longer half-life so it's going to be in the system a lot longer so it's going to prevent that return to an overdose."

FDA approval of the new medication comes on the heels of rising overdose deaths and new variants of drugs entering the market.

"There's something that's been on the East Coast for a long time and it's a mixture of fentanyl with Xylazine and it's called tranq dope. And we haven't seen it a ton here but we will," Beare said. "It's just a matter of time and the scary thing is it's just not reversible with these types of agents. So that part gets very very scary."

While some argue the potential downsides of nalmefene and Opvee — including withdrawal symptoms — Beare said the benefits outweigh the concerns.

"My concerns are that it won't be readily available fast enough," he said "With its counterparts, Narcan and Cloxado, it's an incredibly safe medication."


Stay in Touch with Us Anytime, Anywhere: