U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is urging a medical supply company to fix applicators used by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office to administer the antidote to an opioid overdose.

Instead of spraying a mist of the medication naloxone into the nose, the applicator sends out a straight liquid stream. This can delay the medication's effectiveness by several hours.

In a letter Thursday to Teleflex Medical CEO Benson Smith, Klobuchar, D-Minn., cited recent reports that the office was struggling to obtain properly working nasal applicators. She demanded Teleflex take immediate action.

"Law enforcement officers are working hard to combat the devastating opioid abuse epidemic in my state and around the country. It is essential that they are equipped with the tools needed to do their jobs and that they can rely on those tools to work in an emergency," Klobuchar wrote.

"For that reason, I ask that Teleflex take immediate action to ensure that its equipment functions properly and defective shipments are replaced, which is crucial to the Hennepin County Sheriff's office and other law enforcement agencies in their efforts to respond to overdoses and save lives."

In Minnesota, abuse of prescription opioid painkillers now accounts for more deaths each year than homicides, claiming 336 lives in 2015 alone, she wrote.

The Sheriff's Office has been trying since October to replace the defective devices. That is when Teleflex recalled the product. In an e-mail Wednesday, Teleflex spokeswoman Susan Denby said the company has been experiencing a temporary shortage of the nasal applicator. It has been notifying customers as the product becomes available and been releasing it since Dec. 12, she said.

DAVID CHANEN