Local Doctors developing drug considered a "longer lasting Narcan"
Published On: June 4, 2019
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Doctors say the new drug, called MCAM, will last longer and take away the high long after an overdose. They gave the Trouble Shooters an exclusive look inside the research.
“This is the only reason I am alive,” recovering addict Valarie McDonald says about the nasal spray Narcan. “I remember going into a bathroom to use at a truck stop.”
“Where did you wake up?” reporter Emily Baucum asks.”
“I woke up in the back of the ambulance,” McDonald answers.
“What did you learn at that point?” Baucum asks.
“That I had overdosed on heroin. That they had administered Narcan. And had it been any longer, I would not have made it,” McDonald says.
Narcan stops an overdose, but only lasts for about an hour. And because it doesn’t stay in the system for very long, it doesn’t treat the problem of addiction.
“I got out and was using again that night,” McDonald says.
Dr. Charles France from UT Health San Antonio is working to develop MCAM, essentially a longer-lasting form of Narcan.
“Narcan works. We know it works. But we could do better,” Baucum asks.
“We could do much better,” Dr. France says.
He says MCAM will not only save lives but also help people beat addiction.
“We believe that MCAM will be very useful for people who are former users and want to remain abstinent,” Dr. France says. “Because it will block the effects of opioids for a long period of time. So if they take an opioid, they will neither feel high nor will they be able to overdose themselves.”
He’s working to make a single dose of MCAM protect against overdose for a week, and even months.
New grant money will help fast-track the research. Doctors are about two years away from testing MCAM in humans.
“It’s all hands on deck,” Dr. France says.
Shortly after her overdose, McDonald got clean for good. She now runs two sober living homes where Narcan is always just a reach away.
“I keep both of [the boxes] on top of the fridges,” McDonald says. “This gives us another chance to have a different life.”
Narcan gave her a second chance, and she says a longer-lasting form could do even more good.
“Looks like more saved lives,” McDonald says. “Looks like more chances to get better and recover.”
By EMILY BAUCUM
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