DoD-Supported, Lifesaving Autoinjector to Combat Ultra-Potent Opioid Exposure Available Through DLA

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Source: GAO

April 9, 2024 | Originally published by U.S. Army on February 13, 2024

FORT DETRICK, MD – Long approved for pain control in civilian and military medicine, synthetic opioids are substances that are created in a laboratory and act on the same targets in the brain as natural opiates like morphine and codeine. However, while developed with the best of intentions for pain relief, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil are also currently the main cause of drug overdose deaths in the United States. Ultra-potent versions of synthetic opioids are also believed to have been utilized by Russian special forces to incapacitate Chechen terrorists during a hostage rescue in the Dubrovka theatre in Moscow in 2002, resulting in the death of 127 hostages from opioid exposure. The possibility of these being utilized as chemical weapons by terrorists or within the chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) battlespace is very real. In the event of an ultra-potent opioid attack, commercial off-the-shelf treatments require multiple doses, and the response presents challenges to emergency personnel in chemical protective gear. But hope is on the horizon, and a lifesaving product to combat ultra-potent opioid exposure is now readily available to Warfighters and emergency responders with the click of a mouse.

Tasked with delivering a lifesaving pharmaceutical to service members who may be exposed to ultra-potent opioids, the Joint Project Manager for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Medical’s (JPM CBRN Medical) Rapid Opioid Countermeasure System (ROCS) program, through partnership with kaléo, Inc., and with funding from the Chemical and Biological Defense Program (CBDP), developed and delivered a high-dose naloxone autoinjector (NAI) as a rescue treatment to counter opioid poisoning in less than three years. This NAI is a pre-filled autoinjector containing 10 milligrams of the opioid antagonist naloxone and can be administered via self- or buddy-aid into the front or side of the thigh through clothing and even chemical protection gear such as Mission Oriented Protective Posture, or “MOPP.” The JPM CBRN Medical is a component of the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND).

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