Anti-overdose drugs have proven effective. Is a stronger dose now needed?

Posted at 9:56 PM, Dec 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-14 12:02:25-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — While the holiday season can bring families together to create happy memories, it can be a much more difficult time for others.

In fact, the CDC says drug and alcohol deaths spike this time of year.

Behind many of those drug deaths are overdoses involving fentanyl.

But now experts say a stronger form of a lifesaving anti-overdose drug may be needed.

Therapist Charles Pemberton works in many cities in Tennessee, including Nashville.

He was driving one day when he says he found a woman passed out in her car in an intersection.

Luckily, Pemberton carried Narcan with him — the drug being widely dispersed to help reverse drug overdoses. After no response after administering the first dose, Pemberton reached for a second, which finally revived her.

Pemberton says he's thought a lot about that second dose of Narcan, the brand name for Naloxone, and what might have happened had he only had one.

"She could have ended up in a worse place and it would have weighed heavily on me knowing I couldn't do anything," Pemberton said.

But now a new drug, a higher concentration of naloxone called ZIMHI, is being rolled out — about twice as powerful as Narcan to meet the need on the streets.

"The street drugs are becoming more powerful, and a lot of those are being cut with fentanyl," Pemberton said. "Because of that, people need more to counteract that opioid issue."

The new drug is also injected into the leg instead of in the nostril.

But no matter Narcan or Zimhi, Pemberton says really everyone should have access to at least some naloxone, saying some is better than none.

"You can save a life," Pemberton said.

Get NewsChannel 5 Now, wherever, whenever, always free.

Watch the live stream below, and download our apps on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and more. Click here to learn more.