Some Lake County police officers may get to use a new device as part of the fight against heroin overdoses.
Police in at least 28 Lake County departments have been trained to use the heroin overdose reversal drug naloxone, officials said. Lake County is mimicking DuPage County, where about 1,700 police officers were trained to use naloxone early this year.
Depending on their training, some Lake County police this week are expected to receive the new naloxone-delivery device called EVZIO or the long-available spray and syringe-and-needle forms. Proponents say police officers with naloxone who arrive to an overdose call before paramedics can help save lives.
Virginia-based kaleo Inc. is donating the new hand-held, single-use EVZIO automatic injectors to the Lake County Health Department for distribution to police departments. kaleo, which received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for EVZIO in April, recently announced the donation program for qualifying law-enforcement agencies.
Susan McKnight, the health department's substance abuse program coordinator, said EVZIO is similar to a penlike device used to administer injectable epinephrine for those appearing to have severe allergic reactions. She said Lake County police will be among the first in Illinois with EVZIO, which is pressed onto the upper thigh to treat an opioid overdose.
"It's about the same size as a cigarette pack," McKnight said of EVZIO. "You can carry it in your pocket."
Mark A. Herzog, kaleo's vice president of corporate affairs, said Lake County will receive 6,000 EVZIO naloxone auto-injectors this week. He said the first law enforcement shipment went to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on Oct. 20, followed by Monday's EVZIO initiative announced by the Henrico County Sheriff's Office in suburban Richmond, Virginia.
"Over the last few weeks, we started receiving calls from first-responders about deploying EVZIO in the field," Herzog said.
Round Lake Park Police Chief George Filenko, who's part of the Lake County Opioid Task Force, said Tuesday his officers will use EVZIO. With features such as a voice instructions and a retractable needle, Filenko said kaleo's automatic injector will be easier for officers to use than a spray or syringe.
However, Filenko said, cost will be a significant consideration in deciding whether EVZIO becomes the preferred way for police in Lake County to deliver naloxone. EVZIO is expected to cost much more than the roughly $16 per dose for spray naloxone.
"It really comes down to long-term funding, which is a concern for law enforcement," he said.