Emergent BioSolutions Partners with Emmitt Smith to Launch Ready to Rescue Campaign to Help Save Lives Amidst Rising Opioid Epidemic

  • Professional Football Hall of Famer partners with Emergent to raise awareness of the dangers of opioid use and the importance of being prepared with NARCAN® Nasal Spray
  • The life-saving medicine is available over the counter nationwide, making it possible for anyone to save a life

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GAITHERSBURG, Md., Oct. 16, 2023 -- Today, Emergent BioSolutions Inc. (NYSE: EBS) announced it is teaming up with football icon, Emmitt Smith, to break down the stigma around opioid use and accidental overdose, which continues to fuel a national epidemic impacting people from all walks of life.1 During his decorated 15-year professional career, Smith faced multiple injuries and often chose to play through the pain, because he knew the risks associated with opioids as he witnessed promising athletes develop a dependency, lost teammates to accidental overdose and watched loved ones struggle. Emergent, along with Smith, are launching Ready to Rescue to create open dialogue about opioid risks and educate the public on how to be prepared to help save a life in an opioid overdose emergency.

Opioid overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States,2 however many are not aware that opioid overdose deaths could potentially be prevented with NARCAN® Nasal Spray  and emergency medical intervention. NARCAN® Nasal Spray can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose in minutes. Research shows that 44 percent of opioid-related deaths in states evaluated had a bystander present, but naloxone overdose reversal medications were rarely administered.3 With NARCAN® Nasal Spray available over the counter, more people have access to this life-saving medicine and can quickly act in an opioid emergency when every second counts. By carrying it on the go or keeping it in a first aid kit, anyone can be the difference between life and loss.

“Losing teammates to accidental overdose and watching family members struggle with addiction has made me realize how serious the opioid epidemic is,” said Emmitt Smith. “As a father of five, I make sure to talk to my kids about the risks associated with opioids, and I want to use my voice to help keep our loved ones and communities safe by urging everyone to have NARCAN® Nasal Spray on hand just in case. It’s one step that can have a major impact and ultimately help save lives, and this is why I’m so passionate about my partnership with Emergent.”

The reality is accidental overdoses can happen anywhere, anytime, especially with the rise in synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. Student athletes and college campuses are particularly vulnerable for several reasons, such as peer and performance pressure, stress and curiosity.4,5 In fact, the rates of opioid misuse and dependency are highest among young adults ages 18 to 25.6 That is why as part of the Ready to Rescue campaign, Emergent, along with Smith, will travel to college football tailgates across the country to help raise awareness of the signs of an opioid overdose, offer NARCAN® Nasal Spray demonstrations and distribute Ready to Rescue kits to attendees. The campaign will kick off at tailgate events across the country this month.

“Launching NARCAN® Nasal Spray over the counter was a critical step in our long-standing commitment to reduce preventable opioid overdose deaths, said Paul Williams, senior vice president, products business. “With this expanded access, we recognize there is also a need for additional awareness and education to ensure more people are equipped and empowered to act in an opioid overdose emergency. Emergent is proud to be working with Emmitt Smith to challenge misperceptions around opioid overdose and demonstrate that we can play an important role in helping to change the course of this widespread public health issue.”  

Consumers can find NARCAN® Nasal Spray online and in retailers nationwide. Visit NARCAN.com to learn more and to find a local retailer near you.

Emmitt Smith is a paid spokesperson for Emergent.

About NARCAN® Nasal Spray

NARCAN® Naloxone HCl Nasal Spray 4 mg is the first FDA-approved, over-the-counter (OTC) 4 mg naloxone product for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose. NARCAN® Nasal Spray is not a substitute for emergency medical care. Repeat dosing may be necessary. Use as directed.

About Emergent BioSolutions

At Emergent, our mission is to protect and enhance life. For 25 years, we’ve been at work defending people from things we hope will never happen—so we are prepared just in case they ever do. We provide solutions for complex and urgent public health threats through a portfolio of vaccines and therapeutics that we develop and manufacture for governments and consumers. We also offer a range of integrated contract development and manufacturing services for pharmaceutical and biotechnology customers. To learn more about how we plan to protect or enhance 1 billion lives by 2030, visit our website and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

Safe Harbor Statement

This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, are forward-looking statements. We generally identify forward-looking statements by using words like “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “future,” “goal,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “position,” “possible,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” “target,” “will,” “would,” and similar expressions or variations thereof, or the negative thereof, but these terms are not the exclusive means of identifying such statements. Forward-looking statements are based on our current intentions, beliefs and expectations regarding future events based on information that is currently available. We cannot guarantee that any forward-looking statement will be accurate. Readers should realize that if underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or unknown risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results could differ materially from our expectations. Readers are, therefore, cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statement. Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date of this press release, and, except as required by law, we do not undertake to update any forward-looking statement to reflect new information, events or circumstances.  

There are a number of important factors that could cause the company’s actual results to differ materially from those indicated by any forward-looking statements. Readers should consider this cautionary statement, as well as the risk factors identified in our periodic reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, when evaluating our forward-looking statements.

Emergent BioSolutions Contacts:

Assal Hellmer
Vice President, Communications
[email protected]

Richard Lindahl
EVP and Chief Financial Officer
240-631- 3360
[email protected]

1 Tsai AC, Kiang MV, Barnett ML, Beletsky L, Keyes KM, McGinty EE, et al. (2019) Stigma as a fundamental hindrance to the United States opioid overdose crisis response. PLoS Med 16(11): e1002969. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002969

2 National Safety Counsel Injury Facts. Drug Overdoses. 2023.
Available at: https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/home-and-community/safety-topics/drugoverdoses/#:~:text=Many%20Americans%20are%20familiar%20with,and%20another%2018%25%20in%202021. Accessed August 9, 2023.

3 Mattson CL, et al. Opportunities to Prevent Overdose Deaths Involving Prescription and Illicit Opioids, 11 States, July 2016-June 2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018;67(34):945-951. Published 2018 Aug 31. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6734a2

4 Ekhtiari, S., Yusuf, I., AlMakadma, Y., MacDonald, A., Leroux, T., & Khan, M. (2020). Opioid Use in Athletes: A Systematic Review. Sports health, 12(6), 534–539. Available at:
https://doi.org/10.1177/1941738120933542. Accessed August 9, 2023.

5 Addiction Center. College Drug Abuse. 2023. Available at: https://www.addictioncenter.com/college/. Accessed September 11, 2023.

6 Rath JM, Perks SN, Vallone DM, Barton AA, Stephens DK, Simard B, Hair EC. Educating Young Adults about Opioid Misuse: Evidence from a Mass Media Intervention. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Dec 21;19(1):22. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19010022. PMID: 35010279; PMCID: PMC8750763.

NARCAN is a registered trademark of Emergent Operations Ireland Limited.