Who Answers?

Overdose-Reversal Drug Narcan

855 339 1112

About Overdose-Reversal Drug Narcan

The FDA has approved the over-the-counter sale of the overdose-reversing drug Narcan, particularly the naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray.

Navigation: Overdose-Reversal Drug Narcan Approved by FDA for Over-the-Counter Sales, How Does Narcan Nasal Spray Prevent Opioid Overdoses?, What is Narcan?, Benefits of Making Naloxone Available Over-the-Counter, What are the Disadvantages of Selling Narcan Over-the Counter?, How to Use Narcan to Treat a Fentanyl Overdose, Can Naloxone Be Abused?, Rehab Is Your Best Chance


An opioid overdose can be a life-threatening situation that requires immediate medical attention. When a person takes an excessive amount of opioids, their breathing can become dangerously slow. It can even reach a point wherein the person’s breathing stops entirely. The lack of oxygen in the body and brain can result in severe injury, brain damage, coma, or even death.

It is important to watch out for the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose, including: pinpoint pupils, shallow breathing, bluish lips or nails, clammy skin, unconsciousness, extreme drowsiness, inability to speak, vomiting, gurgling noises, and no breathing.

If you suspect that someone has overdosed on opioids, call emergency medical services immediately.

In some cases, naloxone (Narcan), an opioid antagonist medication that can quickly reverse the effects of an overdose, may be administered. However, it is still essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if the person appears to recover.

Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the over-the-counter sale of Narcan, in hopes that it will help reduce the number of opioid overdoses. Here we will talk about the FDA’s decision, and how this opioid treatment drug can help someone in the event of a drug overdose.


Overdose-Reversal Drug Narcan Approved by FDA for Over-the-Counter Sales

The FDA has approved the over-the-counter sale of the overdose-reversing drug Narcan, particularly the naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray. The lifesaving first opioid treatment drug is now available in drug stores, making it more accessible to consumers even without a prescription.

Advocates have long pushed for this, saying that Narcan will help prevent fatal overdoses. They believe it is essential to get the medication to those who are at risk of experiencing an overdose, including people who use drugs as well as their relatives. Soon people will be able to buy the medication even without a recommendation from their pharmacist.

This move will help in the fight against opioid overdoses occurring throughout the country. Making naloxone widely available is a key strategy in the effort to control the overdose crisis. Drug overdose has previously been linked to over 100,000 deaths in the US a year. Most of those recorded deaths are tied to opioids, mainly fentanyl.

Since Narcan can reverse opioid overdoses, it can work on street drugs like heroin and prescription drugs like oxycodone.

In line with this, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf urged Narcan’s manufacturer to make the drug available at an affordable price.

“Today’s approval of OTC naloxone nasal spray will help improve access to naloxone, increase the number of locations where it’s available and help reduce opioid overdose deaths throughout the country,” Califf said.


How Does Narcan Nasal Spray Prevent Opioid Overdoses?

Narcan nasal spray contains the drug naloxone, which is an opioid antagonist. When someone overdoses on opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, or prescription painkillers, their breathing may slow down or stop completely, which often leads to death.

Naloxone works by quickly binding to the same receptors in the brain that opioids bind to, effectively blocking their effects and reversing the overdose. When Narcan nasal spray is administered, the naloxone is absorbed through the nasal membranes and quickly reaches the brain, where it starts to work within minutes.

The spray is designed to be easy to use, even for people with no medical training. It comes in a small, single-use device that can be carried in a pocket or bag, making it readily available in case of an emergency. In many cases, Narcan nasal spray has been credited with saving lives by quickly reversing the effects of opioid overdoses.

The company that manufactures Narcan nasal spray is Adapt Pharma, which is a subsidiary of Emergent BioSolutions. According to the company, the FDA approval means that Narcan will become available over the counter by late summer.

Although other brands of naloxone will not yet be available, they may also become accessible over the counter soon.

Harm Reduction Therapeutics Inc., which is funded by OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, is already waiting for FDA approval for their version of naloxone nasal spray to become available without a prescription as well.

Right now Emergent has not announced the price for over the counter Narcan. It is also currently unclear if insurers will stop covering Narcan as a prescription drug if it is available over the counter.

What is Narcan?

Narcan is a brand name for naloxone, a medication used to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose. By binding to the brain’s opioid receptors, it can block the effects of other opioids and prevent their potentially fatal effects on breathing and consciousness.

Narcan can be administered via injection or nasal spray, and it is often carried by emergency responders and healthcare providers. It can also be carried by family members or friends of people who are at risk of an opioid overdose.

It is important to note that while Narcan can quickly reverse an opioid overdose, it does not provide a lasting solution to addiction or address the underlying issues that contribute to substance abuse.

Benefits of Making Naloxone Available Over-the-Counter

Naloxone is a potentially life saving drug. Making naloxone available over-the-counter (OTC) has several benefits, including:

Increased access: OTC availability of naloxone would increase access to the medication, making it easier for people who use opioids or are at risk of opioid overdose to obtain it.

Faster response time: Having naloxone readily available can allow for a faster response time in the event of an opioid overdose, potentially saving lives. This is especially important in cases where emergency medical services may not arrive in time.

Reduced stigma: Making naloxone available OTC can help to reduce the stigma associated with opioid use and overdose. It sends a message that opioid use disorder is a medical condition that can and should be treated, rather than a moral failing.

Cost savings: Over-the-counter naloxone can potentially reduce healthcare costs associated with opioid overdoses, including emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

Increased awareness: Making naloxone available OTC can also help to raise awareness about the risks of opioid use and overdose, and the importance of having naloxone on hand. This can encourage individuals to take steps to prevent overdose, such as using opioids more safely and seeking treatment for opioid use disorder.

This decision by the FDA to make Narcan available over the counter opens the door for other versions of naloxone to be made available in the future. For now, it makes the drug more accessible by making it available in places such as grocery stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, and online retailers. Consumers can obtain it without going to a pharmacy.

Right now there are already several organizations that are handing out free naloxone in order to reduce the risk of overdose in the community. This is extremely helpful for those who live in places where the medications are not available.

Some groups including the Remedy Alliance/For The People say that even with Narcan becoming widely available, they will continue their mission to distribute injectable naloxone.

What are the Disadvantages of Selling Narcan Over-the Counter?

With Narcan becoming available over the counter, many are expressing concern regarding how insurers will react.

A lot of people are also wondering about the pricing since the manufacturer has not yet revealed it. Pricing will be important when it comes to establishing the accessibility and availability of this medication. If it is too expensive, people will still struggle to obtain it in their time of need. Making Narcan available OTC may increase the cost of the medication, as it would no longer be covered by insurance.

There are concerns that the manufacturer may stop producing the drug if it is not profitable as an over-the-counter option. However, Narcan’s price as an OTC medication remains to be seen.

While making Narcan available over-the-counter is a good way to increase access to this life-saving medication, there are other potential disadvantages to consider.

For example, without proper training, users may not administer the medication correctly or effectively, potentially leading to further harm. The manufacturer will be responsible for providing clear directions and online videos to make sure consumers know how to use it correctly.

The main thing people need to be reminded of when it comes to administering Narcan is that they still need to call an ambulance for the person experiencing an overdose even after getting naloxone.

Making Narcan available OTC may also create a false sense of security among individuals who use opioids, leading to an increased risk of overdose.

How to Use Narcan to Treat a Fentanyl Overdose

If you suspect someone has overdosed on fentanyl, it is important to act quickly and call emergency services immediately. However, if Narcan is available, you may administer it to reverse the effects of the overdose. Keep in mind that you need to know what you are doing so you don’t put the person’s life in danger.

Here are the steps to administer Narcan:

Call emergency services: Before administering Narcan, call for emergency medical assistance right away. Time is critical in treating an opioid overdose, so it is important to seek help immediately.

Assemble the Narcan kit: Narcan is available as an injectable solution, a nasal spray, or an auto-injector. Follow the instructions provided with the kit to assemble it properly.

Administer Narcan: The method of administering Narcan depends on the type of kit you have. If you have an injectable solution, you will need to draw up the medication and inject it into a muscle, such as the thigh or upper arm. If you have a nasal spray or auto-injector, follow the instructions provided with the kit. Remember to administer the medication as soon as possible after the overdose is suspected, as it can take effect quickly and may need to be repeated if the person does not respond.

Monitor the person: After administering Narcan, continue to monitor the person until emergency services arrive. They may need additional medical care, and it is important to stay with them and keep them calm.

It is also important to note that Narcan is not a substitute for emergency medical care. It can help reverse the effects of an overdose, but it is not a long-term solution to opioid addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, seek professional help as soon as possible.

Can Naloxone Be Abused?

Naloxone is not a drug that can be abused. That said, while naloxone itself cannot be abused, there have been instances where it has been stolen or misused. For example, some people have stolen naloxone from public places or from people who carry it as part of their emergency kit and sold it on the black market. Additionally, some people have used naloxone as a way to prolong their drug use by reversing the effects of opioids so they can continue using.

Naloxone should only be used in emergency situations and under the supervision of a medical professional. It is not a substitute for addiction treatment or a way to support ongoing drug use.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an opioid addiction or any other type of substance use disorder, it is important to seek proper medical treatment. Look for an addiction treatment center near you to learn more about the various treatment options that are available to you. Get started on your road to long-lasting sobriety today.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.


author avatar
Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

Addiction Treatment Centers For
Drugs, Alcohol and Prescription Drug Abuse

Call Now