In a win for all who support harm reduction, the FDA has approved the life-saving medication Narcan and its generic brand name naloxone for over-the-counter use.
Earlier this morning, the treatment was approved, with FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf saying in a statement acquired by CNN, “The FDA remains committed to addressing the evolving complexities of the overdose crisis. As part of this work, the agency has used its regulatory authority to facilitate greater access to naloxone by encouraging the development of and approving an over-the-counter naloxone product to address the dire public health need,”
Narcan is currently available in almost every state from a pharmacist without a prescription and nonprofits like End Overdose are giving it away for practically free. However, making the medication available over the counter will make it as easy as walking into a local drugstore to pick up the medication.
The over-the-counter package will also contain two doses, which may be needed given the severity of the overdose. Often, it may take more than one dose to restore breathing to a victim of an overdose. If the patient does not revive after around two to three minutes after the first dose, a second dose is recommended. Narcan also wears off after 30-90 minutes.
Opioid deaths are the current leading cause of accidental death in the US.
Despite this huge win, many are concerned the price of the more easily accessible Narcan will create a barrier to getting the medication to those who need it most.
Califf continued in his statement, “We encourage the manufacturer to make accessibility to the product a priority by making it available as soon as possible and at an affordable price.”
Featured image from Caron Treatment Center, second image from End Overdose,