Kirk pushes for FDA approval of Narcan spray to reverse heroin overdoses

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk is leading an effort to solve the heroin overdose epidemic in the Chicago area. He hosted a summit on the problem Monday.

Louie Miceli died over two years ago of a heroin overdose. The 24-year-old's mother calls her late son the face of "what if." Felicia Miceli always thinks about what if Louie's DuPage County first responders were equipped with the life-saving drug naloxone, commonly known as Narcan.

"It's a person's life at stake and it takes seconds to give that person a chance to receive help and go on with their lives," Miceli said.

Since Miceli's death, every law enforcement agent and policeman in DuPage County is equipped with Narcan. This year, they began using the easier, inexpensive nasal spray.

"We've had 32 instances in the past year where we have been able to save someone's life who is overdosing," said Dr. Richard Jorgensen, DuPage County coroner.

While DuPage County has been giving the nasal spray, it has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The injectable, more expensive version is FDA approved. Coroners, prosecutors and Felicia Miceli joined Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk in his push to expedite the approval process for the Narcan spray.

"With this method - one-step, very cost effective, $15 - and you don't have to worry about a needle," said Michael Nerheim, Lake County state's attorney.

Narcan saved David Cohen's life. He's now the director of clinical services at Hazelden/Betty Ford in Chicago and strongly supports Kirk's efforts. However, federal help can't end with Narcan.

"While it's important to offer life saving measures it's equally important to offer treatment to follow up," Cohen said.

Felicia Miceli can't stop thinking about "what if."

"This is unbearable, it shouldn't happen and I don't want it to happen to anyone else," Miceli said.

Heroin is responsible for hundreds of lives lost in the Chicago area every year. Kirk says since 2012, heroin takes a life every 3 days in the Chicago suburbs. While Kirk continues to push for FDA approval for the Narcan nasal spray, the FDA says it does not discuss drugs pending before the agency.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.