The lifesaving opioid overdose medicine Narcan is now available to purchase over the counter, without a prescription.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Narcan nasal spray to be sold at pharmacies on March 29. Commissioner Robert M. Califf, MD, said in a statement at the time that the organization "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," he said.
Naloxone is referred to by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a "lifesaving medicine," which is able to "reverse an overdose from opioids — including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications — when given in time." Offered primarily as a nasal spray, naloxone counteracts the depression of the central nervous and respiratory systems in oerdose victims, allowing them to breathe normally again.
Narcan (naloxone) is now offered online and in person at CVS, Walgreens, and other major pharmacies. It is available for $44.99 and is HSA/FSA eligible.
In a press release last week, Kevin Ban, M.D., executive vice president and Walgreens chief medical officer, said that the company is "committed to educating and making it easier for all Americans to have this life-saving medicine available in their first aid kits in case of an emergency."
"We all must recognize that overdoses can happen to anyone, regardless of age, background or other factors," he said. "Providing access to OTC naloxone creates an opportunity for bystanders, friends and family members to potentially save a life. In the event of an overdose, every second matters."
According to the CDC, 75 percent of drug overdose deaths in 2021 involved an opioid. Overdoses involving opioids killed more than 80,000 people that year, with nearly 88 percent of those deaths involving synthetic opioids.