In recent years, fentanyl and opioid-related deaths have been on the rise in Collin County. As previously reported by Local Profile, in the past three years drug overdoses went up 571% in Collin County alone and Texas as a whole had a 30.6% increase in drug doses in 2020.
The recent fentanyl-related deaths of three teenage Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD students and the arrest of three people allegedly linked to the overdoses opened Collin County residents’ eyes as to how prevalent the issue is.
Following a news conference held on Feb. 15 where the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Leigha Simonton announced the arrest of Jason Xavier Villanueva, believed by law enforcement to be the main source of supply in the Carrollton juvenile cases, the same day a panel of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) experts unanimously voted in favor of moving the overdose-reverse drug naloxone over the counter.
Although the vote is not binding, according to WFAA, the panel of experts urged the FDA to move swiftly to make Narcan more available to the public despite some concerns regarding the drug’s instructions and packages.
The drug manufacturer Emergent Biosolutions conducted a 70-person study to show that untrained people of various ages and backgrounds would be able to correctly administer the drug. However, FDA staffers cautioned that some participants had trouble following directions due to the layout of the multistep instructions in the package. Emergent says it would revise the packaging and labeling to address these issues.
Even with these concerns in mind, the 19 pain and medical education experts on the panel believed the product could be effectively used by adults and teenagers. “Perfect should not be the enemy of the good and the evidence we saw today provides a clear indication that the drug can be used without the direction of a health care provider,” said Dr. Brian Bateman of Stanford University (via WFAA.)
FDA’s Dr. Jody Green told WFAA they expect the nonprescription switch would allow for Narcan to be sold in vending machines, convenience stores and supermarkets.
According to a report by the Associated Press, naloxone, most commonly known under the brand name Narcan, can counteract the effects of an opioid overdose in minutes both in its nasal spray and injectable forms, and it’s become a key tool in the battle against the overdose epidemic that is linked to the deaths of over 100,000 Americans in 2021.