Communities now have easier access to a critical tool for keeping each other safe from opioid overdose. On Mar. 29, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Narcan nasal spray for over-the-counter use. Advisory committee members unanimously recommended approval for marketing Narcan without a prescription. For communities and families experiencing opioid addiction, having Narcan on hand to address a potential overdose can be life-saving.
Narcan, also known by the generic name naloxone, is a medication that quickly slows the effect of an opioid overdose, which can prevent the onset of breathing issues and provide more time for the person to get emergency care. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s (SAMHSA) opioid overdose toolkit, having Narcan on hand is a good idea for households coping with opioid addiction.
Opioids refer to a class of drugs that can include heroin, prescription pain relievers, morphine or fentanyl. During the coronavirus pandemic, deaths related to opioid overdose skyrocketed, with many health organizations referring to the number of overdoses as a crisis.
“The FDA remains committed to addressing the evolving complexities of the overdose crisis,” said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf in an FDA press release.
“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.”
Despite FDA approval, Narcan likely won’t be widely available in convenience stores, pharmacies and grocery stores until late summer, according to the company.