Opioid crisis: Narcan inventor on the rise of fentanyl and a new drug to combat it

The inventor of the Narcan nasal spray that can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses said he has been forced to evolve the drug to react to the rise of fentanyl.

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“This opioid crisis is really a fentanyl crisis,” Dr. Roger Crystal told FOX Business’ Liz Claman. “On the basis of more than 50 percent of opiate overdose deaths contain this opioid called fentanyl -- which is 50 times stronger than heroin.”

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In 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General called for heightened awareness and availability of Naloxone. Narcan, which is an aspirated version of Naloxone, has saved numerous lives, including that of pop star Demi Lovato.

He said he has seen “some progress” in how the country has handled the opioid crisis and its advancement with the increase of fentanyl. Crystal’s efforts have even received grant funding from some government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, he told Claman.

“What we're now working on is a follow [up] to this called nasal Nalmefene, which we think is a more powerful antidote and probably better suited to address fentanyl overdoses, which is what we're now seeing,” he said.

Narcan has been called a “miracle drug” and is widely used, carried by EMTs, police departments and even schools because it can counteract an overdose in minutes.

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Crystal, who is also CEO of Opiant Pharmaceuticals, said he didn't know the opioid crisis would "unravel" the way it has.

Deadly fentanyl coming from China has also been a critical point of the ongoing trade discussions between the U.S. and China.