FDA Approves Naloxone (Narcan) Available Without Prescription

Deaths related to Fentanyl and other opioids is a growing concern across the country and lawmakers look for ways to combat the Fentanyl Crisis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number one reason people die accidental deaths in the U.S. is drug overdoses. Their statistics show nearly 81,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2021 and sadly, that number is expected to rise for 2022.

A recent move by the FDA could help save lives by making Naloxone, or Narcan, available without a prescription.

Dr. Randy Gelow, Medical Director at The Hope House, says this should have happened years ago. ” I believe that people will now realize that opioids are much more apparent than people want to think since now the reversal agent is over the counter to combat deaths,” said Dr. Gelow. This is a sentiment shared by many across the Valley.

The doctor said while making Naloxone more easily available, there are also potential dangers too, “I hope that having Narcan over the counter doesn’t make people feel they can be more reckless or try to get a higher high just because they have access to Narcan to protect them if they over do it.”

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What is Narcan?

Narcan is the brand name for Naloxone; a life-saving opioid antagonist medication that quickly reverses an opioid overdose.

Within minutes of being used, Narcan can reverse opioid overdose symptoms and restore breathing to normal if someone is having trouble breathing, or isn’t breathing at all.

How is OTC Narcan administered?

Naloxone can be given as a nasal spray or it can be injected into the muscle, under the skin, or into the veins. Both of these have been approved by the FDA for a variety of brands.

The OTC version is a prefilled, needle-free device that requires no assembly and is sprayed into one nostril while the person lays on their back.

The FDA recently approved Zimhi, a single-dose, prefilled syringe that can be injected into the muscle or under the skin, but that is not yet available without a prescription.

Learn more about fentanyl addiction treatment at The Hope House

How much does Naloxone Cost?

The cost of this life-saving medication depends on several factors, including: where you make the purchase, how you buy it and what type you get.

If you have insurance, you can check with your provider to see if the medication is covered under your plan.

If you don’t have insurance, you are advised to check with your local pharmacy for the price.

On GoodRX.com, you can buy it for less than $50 at national pharmacy chains.

What are some signs of an opioid overdose?

Opioid overdose symptoms can come on quickly and be fatal if left untreated. Drugs can often be laced with fentanyl, a potent opioid, and lead to a fentanyl overdose without even knowing you’ve taken it. Common symptoms include:

  • unconsciousness
  • very small pupils
  • slow or shallow breathing
  • vomiting
  • an inability to speak
  • faint heartbeat
  • limp arms and legs
  • pale skin
  • purple lips and fingernails

Using a single dose of Naloxone (Narcan) can reverse these symptoms in seconds and save lives.

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