The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office will receive replacement applicators for a drug that's used to reverse opioid overdoses.
Teleflex Medical makes the intranasal delivery applicators for the drug naloxone. The company began receiving complaints that certain devices were delivering the medication in a stream rather than a fully atomized plume. The defective devices may cause a risk of under dosing someone who is overdosing on an opioid drug.
Hennepin County has been dealing with an opioid epidemic for the past several years and naloxone is a critical tool to prevent overdose deaths. There were 106 opioid-related overdose deaths in Hennepin County through October 2016 – a 25 percent increase in opioid-related deaths over the same time period in 2015.
Twenty percent of the Sheriff’s Office naloxone delivery systems were found to contain the defective atomizers and are now out of service due to the recall. The office deployed naloxone seven times in 2016, so it still has enough kits with the functioning devices to be operationally effective, but it is not operating at 100 percent of its capacity with respect to naloxone deployments.
Stanek called upon Teleflex Medical to ensure a return to 100 percent functionality for first responders who use the product after learning that his office received more devices in the recall batch when it requested replacements. According to the manufacture, the recalled devices can be used if they have been tested by the purchaser and are found to be operating as intended.
“It is incredibly frustrating that the manufacture would send our agency two more shipments meant to fix the problem, only to learn they are of the same recall batch,” Stanek said. "We are in the business of saving lives, and it is difficult to do that if we can't rely on equipment being sent to us."
Following reports that the Sheriff’s Office repeatedly received defective applicators U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar wrote a letter to the Teleflex CEO asking for immediate action to ensure that the company's equipment functions properly and defective shipments are replaced. Teleflex has sent word that replacements will be sent.
“I am glad that Teleflex promptly heeded my call to replace this critical equipment,” Klobuchar said. “This action will help ensure that our law enforcement officers who are on the front lines of the fight against the opioid epidemic are equipped with the lifesaving tools they need.”
As a former Hennepin County Attorney, Klobuchar has long led local and national efforts to curb drug abuse and help people overcome addiction. Klobuchar was one of four senators, along with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), to lead the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). The bipartisan bill, which was signed into law last July, encourages states and local communities to pursue a full array of proven strategies in the fight against opioid addiction.
At the end of 2016, $1 billion was made available by Congress to fund the national effort. To build on the first step of CARA, Klobuchar also introduced the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act, which would require the use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) in all states that receive certain federal funding to combat opioid abuse and also requires states to make their PDMP data available to other states. Klobuchar and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) also introduced the Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment (LifeBOAT) Act, which would establish a permanent funding stream to provide and expand access to substance abuse treatment.
In September 2014, the DEA implemented Klobuchar’s bipartisan Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act. Under the legislation, consumers are provided with more safe and responsible ways to dispose of unused prescription medications and controlled substances.