Nightly News   |  April 03, 2014

FDA Approves Opioid Antidote Evzio

One person dies every 36 minutes from an opioid overdose from painkillers.

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>>> a shocking number out today from the government. a person dies in this country every 36 minutes from an opioid drug overdose , either prescription painkillers or heroin. and the fda says accidental drug poisoning has now surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in this country. there is a drug that can reverse an overdose and stop people from dying. some emergency responders have been using it. today the feds took a major step in making sure that drug is even more widely available. we get our report tonight from our national correspondent, kate snow .

>> reporter: in portland, maine, we rode along with paramedics.

>> it's an amazing medication. they can be unconscious, not breathing and they wake right up.

>> reporter: the drug has saved more than 10,000 people. and today, the fda approved a new version that can be prescribed to families and friends of someone who might overdose on heroin or opioid painkillers.

>> this approval today will enable care -- emergency care , life-saving care to be given on the spot when it's needed, whether you're in a clinic or a hospital or on the street.

>> reporter: the new device called evzio, which will be available this summer, talks you through a quick injection through clothing.

>> injection complete. seek emergency medical attention .

>> reporter: the fda compared it to having a defibrillator around. outside boston, they train dozens of parents each week to news a nasal spray version of the drug.

>> why would you not provide a resource that could allow a parent or loved one to save the person?

>> reporter: but in other places, it's illegal for parents to have. maine's governor proposed legislation. do you believe it should be distributed to parents --

>> no.

>> reporter: why not?

>> because it's an escape. it's an excuse to stay addicted. i think we need to treat -- let's deal with the treatment, the proper treatment and not say, go overdose and, oh, by the way, if you do, i'll be there to save you.

>> reporter: but if it can save one life, why would you not support that?

>> i've said my peace on it.

>> reporter: the fda commissioner says there's no scientific evidence to prove that people abuse drugs more. people are getting it from the underground right now. we'll meet some of them next week in a special series across all of nbc news.

>> we'll look forward to that.