FDA Approves Over-the-Counter Sale of Narcan to Combat Rising Opioid Overdose Deaths in the US!

FDA Approves Over-the-Counter Sale of Narcan
FDA Approves Over-the-Counter Sale of Narcan. Credit | AP

United States: Narcan, the brand name for a nasally delivered drug (spray) that can almost immediately reverse a near-fatal opioid overdose, would be made available over the counter in numerous shops, being easy to acquire and access.

Due to the increasing availability of fentanyl in illicit drug trade products, overdose deaths in the US have started to reach unbelievable levels, and most ways to stop the crisis have proved to be unsuccessful.

After the approval, Narcan should be much easier to find for anyone who wants to help a friend or even a stranger, as NBC News reported.

FDA noded Narcan for over-the-counter sale

Narcan should be much easier to find for anyone who aims to help a friend or even some stranger.

In a long-awaited move, the Food and Drug Administration eventually approved the antidote for use without a physician’s prescription. Starting from March 2023, the two-dose boxes for USD 45 each were delivered nationwide.

Before that, naloxone nasal spray, also known as Narcan, can be obtained for free at health centers and may be prescribed by a doctor.

Stocking of the drugs by retails began

Stores around the country stocked the bright-pink Narcan boxes in different locations: in a Pharmacy display area, in the pain relief section, in the back of the counter of the pharmacy, and behind the cash register. Some were easy to notice, and they were accessible, too. At any moment, some customers may want only to have this or that right now, or even to ask for extra help, as NBC News reported.

Within CVS Pharmacy located in a Target near Pittsburgh, the Narcan was identified on a shelf locked in a case. This place was marked as “Covid tests.”

The Atlanta Walgreens stocked it was up on the top-shelf under the theft-resistant box, with a huge metal pole in the aisle obstructing the sight.

Maya Doe-Simkins, the co-director of Remedy Alliance, a group that distributes naloxone, the generic version of Narcan, to harm-reduction groups across the country said, “There’s a real inconsistent rollout.”

Moreover, Dr. Maryam Jowza, a chronic pain expert at the UNC School of Medicine in North Carolina, said not selling Narcan in gas stations and convenience stores was “a missed opportunity.”

Why is Narcan needed?

Visual Representation | Credit : Shutterstock

During an opioid overdose, the medication decreases the respiratory and heart rate of the person. In some cases, the liver can completely shut down and even cause a person to become unconscious, unresponsive, and limp. They may experience bluish discolorations of their lips, gums, or fingertips. In a severe case, an individual can drown in their own vomit or simply cease to breathe.

Narcan, when given soon after an overdose begins, reverses these effects rapidly: The individual will be up after a minimum of a minute, but not more than three minutes, says the Food and Drug Administration. The first aid Narcan that is used only remains effective for a short time, so 911 should also be called.

Dr. Steven Maher, an emergency medicine doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, stated that the speed of administering Narcan is critical to the removal of opiates from the blood and rescuing those individuals from death.

Maher added, “You start getting brain damage or brain injuries within six minutes of not breathing very well,” and, “So typically the sooner, the better,” as NBC News reported.

In addition, Dr. Scott Hadland, an addiction specialist at Mass General for Children in Boston, using the generic name for the drug, stated, “Naloxone works exceptionally well,” and, “It acts within minutes to reverse an overdose and save a life.”