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Injectable, higher dose naloxone product saves lives at West Palm Beach treatment center

Posted at 11:51 PM, Oct 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-31 23:54:25-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Injectable, higher dose naloxone product saves lives at West Palm Beach treatment center

As overdose deaths continue to climb across Florida, a local treatment center is turning to a relatively new overdose reversal device to help save lives.

It's called ZIMHI, an injectable emergency treatment drug designed to deliver a faster and stronger dosage of naloxone compared to Narcan nasal spray.

"Within 15 seconds they become alert, they become oriented, CPR has stopped and they’re at a better spot," said Chris Chodkowski, a primary trauma addiction therapist at Aspen Behavioral Health.

Within the last six months, he's used the device six times on patients suffering from an overdose.

"It’s truly amazing to bring an individual back from an unconscious state and to see them relive that life again, it’s an amazing feeling that you have just participated in their life-changing event," said Chodkowski.

According to the latest numbers from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, 7,231 Floridians died from a drug overdose in 2020. A 37% increase from 2019.

The opioid crisis hits close to home for Jupiter resident Gregg Wolfe.

"Losing a child under any circumstances is horrific, something that I’ll always live with, and I’ll miss him to the day I die," said Wolfe.

In 2012 his son Justin died from a heroin overdose. He was 21 years old at the time. "He was extremely lovable, personable, extremely intelligent, he was the life of the party."

When it comes to ZIMHI, Wolfe said it's a step in the right direction but only wishes it was readily available sooner.

"Not that it will necessarily prevent them from overdosing, but it will prevent them from dying and that’s the main thing is taking another child from their parent," Wolfe added.

US World Meds received approval for ZIMHI from the Food and Drug Administration late last year and it is now available at local pharmacies with a prescription. The device delivers 5 milligrams of the medication through an injection in the thigh compared to the naloxone nasal spray which administers 4 milligrams.

"It works faster because it's intramuscular, the way it's injected, it's got a greater concentration of naloxone in the system. So you get that full five milligrams of naloxone, so you're going to have a higher concentration of that, which is going to help fight off those opioids that have potentially initiated this respiratory depression," said Kristen Breton, Director of Public Health and Advocacy for US World Meds.

The company is now working to expand its use to include local law enforcement and first responders.

"Anybody who is in treatment or in recovery, who may be at risk, anybody who's prescribed opioids, and including in the public health markets, you know, getting in the hands of law enforcement, fire, harm reduction groups, anybody who dispenses naloxone, this should be one of the tools in their toolbox that they're able to give out," said Breton.