Opioid abuse treatment in works targets Fentanyl

Opiant Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:OPNT), the company that invented the Narcan spray, is developing what it says is longer-lasting treatment nasal treatment for abusers of the opioid Fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent. It is typically used to treat severe pain. The new nasal spray will be used to save the lives of opioid abusers, according to Dr. Roger Crystal, Opiant Pharmaceuticals’ CEO.

“The idea is very similar to how Narcan works,” he told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on “Varney & Co.” “It gets them breathing again.”

Opioid addiction has become an epidemic in the United States. The 42,249 opioid overdose deaths in 2016 were five times higher than in 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to Crystal, the product has a longer half-life, which allows it to protect the longer-acting effects of Fentanyl.

“The big concern is, because Fentanyl is a long-acting, more potent opioid, that people can potentially stop breathing again once they’ve been initially revived,” he said.

Crystal met with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week regarding its planned development of the drug. The company plans to file a New Drug Application by 2020.

“We see this product having great potential,” Crystal said. “And if the opioid crisis continues to evolve as it is, then the likelihood of acquiring longer-acting products is going to be greater.”