FOX 2 (WJBK) - The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office has become the first in the nation to use Opvee when people are overdosing on opioids to reverse the overdose.
Opvee is different than Narcan because it’s approved specifically to treat synthetic opioid overdoses - like the very potent fentanyl. So far 49 deputies have been trained and 20 are carrying Opvee right now.
"It takes about 30 minutes to do the training," said Megan Phillips, Oakland Community Health Network. "We are seeing it being used currently."
More than 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids.
Hilary Golston, FOX 2: "Are you seeing a difference in the effectiveness of Opvee patients vs Narcan patients?"
"Not yet, that will be in the data we’re collecting," Phillips said.
Phillips, the director of Substance Use Disorder Services at Oakland Community Health Network, says Opvee like Narcan, saves lives. How much more effective it is on drugs like fentanyl, remains to be seen.
"It is an additional tool we’re able to use in our tool belt," Phillips said. "Narcan is the gold standard for what is utilized, but with Opvee what we’re seeing and hearing from the police officers is (that) it can take multiple doses at times, because of the synthetic opioids."
The drug rapidly reverses an overdose and works like Narcan by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain, blocking the symptoms of an overdose.
"Opvee is different than Narcan in that it more tightly binds to those opioid receptors which results in a longer lasting effect, compared to Narcan," said Dr. Vasilis Pozios. "That’s why it’s thought that Opvee may be more efficient at reversing overdoses caused by more potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil."
Hilary Golston, FOX 2:"Is the efficacy of the drug compared to Narcan still a question mark?"
"That’s fair to say - and that's why whenever I talk about Opvee, I like to remind people that Narcan still works," he said.
Pozios is the chief medical officer at Oakland Community Health Network.
"The question is if it is worth the additional cost," he said. "Does that kind of bear out over time compared to Narcan."
OCHN put $7,000 towards the Opvee program at the sheriff’s office.
"At the end of the day we want to support anything that saves lives - Narcan will certainly do that, and Opvee will do that," he said.