A demonstration of how naloxone is administered via a nasal spray.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is informing the community and fellow first responders nationwide about the recall of a device used for intranasal delivery of naloxone, the drug used to reverse an opioid overdose.

The Sheriff’s Office and other first responders around the country rely on the Teleflex Medical intranasal Mucola Atomizer Device as the most effective delivery method of naloxone.

“I expect 2016 will be a record-breaking year for overdose deaths in the county,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. “Due to this tragic increase, I consider this recall issue to be of the highest importance. We are dealing with an epidemic, and we need all the help we can get to save lives.”

Hennepin County has been dealing with an opioid epidemic for the past several years, and naloxone is a critical tool to prevent overdose deaths. There were 106 opioid-related overdose deaths in Hennepin County through October 2016 – a 25 percent increase in opioid-related deaths over the same time period in 2015.

Twenty percent of the Sheriff’s Office naloxone delivery systems were found to contain the defective atomizers and are now out of service due to the recall. HCSO deployed naloxone seven times in 2016, so it still has enough kits with the functioning MAD atomizers to be operationally effective, but it is not operating at 100 percent of its capacity with respect to naloxone deployments.

Stanek is calling upon Teleflex Medical to ensure a return to 100 percent functionality for first responders who use the product. The Sheriff’s Office is working with the manufacturer to find a long-term solution to the defective MAD atomizers.

“It is incredibly frustrating that the manufacture would send our agency two more shipments meant to fix the problem, only to learn they are of the same recall batch,” Stanek said. "We are in the business of saving lives, and it is difficult to do that if we can't rely on equipment being sent to us."

According to the manufacture, the recalled devices can be used if they have been tested by the purchaser and are found to be operating as intended. The Sheriff’s Office has received two shipments of the devices since the recall was initiated, both shipments were part of the original recall list. To date, the Sheriff’s Office has not received non-recalled replacement atomizers.

Teleflex received complaints that certain atomizers were delivering medication in a stream rather than a fully atomized plume. Although naloxone will act to reverse an opioid overdose, defective devices may cause a risk of under-dosing naloxone during nasal administration.


Amanda Schwarze is a Lakeshore reporter who is passionate about local government and nonprofit projects. She is thoughtful and independent. Amanda loves traveling, cooking and spending time with her boyfriend and their two cats (Buddy Guy and Spotacus).