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Oakland County to be first in nation to deploy new opioid overdose drug

Opvee is a nasal rescue medicine used for synthetic opioid overdoses
Posted at 3:11 PM, Mar 03, 2024

PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) — Deputy Allie Michaels is one of a thousand sworn deputies at the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

"I get to help people. I get to do something when a crime is committed," she said.

Deputy Michaels transitioned to law enforcement after working as an investigator with Michigan's Child Protection Services.

"Just seeing the impact that drugs have on children. Not having parents that are present and coherent to participate in their lives. That was something that really hit home for me," she said.

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Opvee, also known as nalmefene hydrochloride

That's why she chose to join a pilot program in which 20 deputies will carry Opvee, a nasal rescue medicine used for synthetic opioid overdose reversal. Simply put, Opvee is Narcan 2.0.

"Just seeing the differences in coming back from that in an overdose, how people are responding to that is really cool," said Michaels.

On December 5, Deputy Michaels responded to a reported overdose.

Body cam footage shows Michaels rushing inside a dollar store as she tears open a pack of Opvee, ready to administer without a single second to lose.

Afrter administering the drug, Michaels began chest compressions.

"At like two minutes and 27 seconds, no joke, I felt what I thought was a breath," said Deputy Michaels. "She is breathing... That doesn't happen with everything else I have used or administered. So, I administered a second dose after the two and a half minutes, and about a minute later."

Opvee, also known as nalmefene hydrochloride, proved successful, Michaels said.

"The female took a deep breath. Sat up, looked around and asked us, why we were all there," she said.

Oakland County Sheriff's Office is the first law enforcement agency in the U.S. to roll out Opvee in partnership with the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities (ACHC).

ACHC's director of harm reduction, Steve Norris says the medication is FDA-approved.

"We've had what we refer to as respiratory recovery very, very quickly with people, even with more powerful substances," said Norris.

Even though Opvee and Narcan look similar, Norris says the difference is that the medication gives first responders another tool and does not replace Narcan — which remains effective.

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Opvee, also known as nalmefene hydrochloride

"The same way they would apply. They would insert that in the nostril and press that plunger," Norris said about the similarities Opvee has with Narcan in terms of administering.

Norris understands the challenge as he, too, has battled with addiction for 28 years.

"I was part of the Oxycodone craze," said Norris.

Now, the father of two is using his past to help turn around the lives of others by offering post-Narcan or post-Opvee deployment counseling to victims.

"Not for the purpose of convincing them to fix themselves, that they are the problem. But to connect with them as humans and tell them we love them and we are going to be there for them," said Norris.

Since Opvee is part of a pilot program, it is not accessible to the public yet, but Narcan is, and you can pick up a free box from one of the Save Life stations across metro Detroit.

To find a location, click here.