Narcan will be available over the counter later this week

As we covered last week, nearly 1 in 10 adults in the US have lost a relative to a drug overdose, predominantly by opioids including fentanyl. One of the most effective ways of treating an opioid overdose is to administer Narcan, a nasal spray form of the medication naloxone. When sprayed into the nostril, the naloxone is quickly absorbed and gets receptors in the brain to start breathing again. Doctors and experts praise Narcan for having no adverse side effects and being, quite literally, lifesaving. While previously only available at pharmacies behind the counter, Emergent BioSolutions Inc. (the manufacturer) just announced that it will now be available for purchase over the counter this September:

In an effort to reduce the rising number of opioid overdoses in the U.S., including from fentanyl, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in March approved the first over-the-counter Narcan nasal spray — a naloxone-based medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, including accidental ones in children, and save lives.

More recently, the FDA approved another medication, Opvee, a prescription nalmefene hydrochloride nasal spray for adults and adolescents 12 and older that also reverses opioid overdoses. The medication reportedly has longer-lasting effects than naloxone, though some experts have raised concerns about it also causing prolonged withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, in drug users.

Medications that can reverse an opioid overdose are something, experts say, parents should know more about. Overdose deaths in people 14 to 18 years old increased from 2019 to 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 84% of deaths involving illicitly manufactured fentanyls. Many illicit drug users are unaware they’re actually taking fentanyl, which is often mixed in with other drugs in powder or pill form, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

If your teen or someone you know is acquiring a drug that’s not from a pharmacy — from a friend at school or work or from someone online — “you should just assume it has fentanyl in it,” Dr. Jennifer Plumb, pediatric emergency medicine physician, professor in the University of Utah department of pediatrics and medical director of Utah Naloxone, tells Yahoo Life.

But teens aren’t the only ones being exposed to fentanyl. According to the FDA, infants and toddlers in particular are at risk of accidental exposure to the drug.

[From Yahoo! Life]

One important thing to note about Narcan is that it can wear off after 30-90 minutes, whereas an opioid in your system can last much longer. Because of that, it is recommended that use of Narcan always be immediately followed by a visit to the ER or urgent care. The starting suggested retail price is $44.99, and that only gets you two doses. We’ll see if the price gets knocked down because a lot of people will want to have this on hand. I hope Narcan being more accessible helps save a lot of lives.

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24 Responses to “Narcan will be available over the counter later this week”

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  1. Glasshalfdone says:

    In Canada, each person get 2 free kits each year. I always get my students to get them before they start their community nursing rotation.

    • Louise says:

      We do?! How?

    • Tisme says:

      In my province we get as many free Narcan kits as we want. Most local pharmacies have an abundance of them and you just have to ask for them. The nasal kits are purchased for a fee.

    • Cass says:

      In Canada, we can go to any pharmacy and get them for free. There is no limit per year.

      I cannot believe (or maybe I should) that you’d have to pay for them in the US.

      • Ameerah M says:

        You don’t. It’s free at US pharmacies as well. You just have to request it from a pharmacist. That’s always been the case. It’s just now you can buy it OTC like Aspirin or cold medicine.

  2. Tammy says:

    Naxalone kits are free in Ontario, and I think that’s a good thing. My daughter and her roommates have a kit now – she’s had to call 911 to help other students who apparently overdosed or got roofied at parties. I hate that it’s necessary but am thankful it’s available. And I hope they never have to use it.

  3. Brenda says:

    I’ve happily prescribed this to high school and college students for years. Insurance didn’t cover it so parents had to be convinced to pay for it using

    Sometimes, the parent would look at me and say, well they can’t use it on themselves!

    A) sucks to be the person right next to the one that died. You’ve got the grief of your now dead friend and also lot of time with the police then therapist.
    B) don’t think for two seconds that that kid didn’t let their friends know what they had in their bag. You may buy it and it actually may get used on your kid after all.

    I am wildly enthusiastic about this stuff going over the counter. Reducing barriers on narcan is as awesome as reducing barriers on birth control.

  4. ML says:

    Those numbers are shocking! I’m glad that the US is making Narcan available without prescription to save lives—I don’t know if opioids are as much of a problem in the NLs, but naxalon is only available by prescription here. If you travel internationally, please take precautions if you need them. Reading the posts from GlassHalfDone and Tammy: Go Canada!

  5. Brenda says:

    Also one time I had a mom who walked in on her kid who needed it and what happened after that was so heartbreaking that it still makes me cry years later.

    This should be part of every home first aid kit as well as in every bag.

  6. sid says:

    As someone who lived through the crack-cocaine epidemic of the 1980s, seeing how the opioid epidemic has been reported and treated is such a stark contrast and a complete mindf*ck as a Black person. I was a kid back then but I sure remember the demonization, the criminalization, etc. Sorry for the somewhat offtopic comment, but it’s so glaring.

    • TheVolvesSeidr says:

      You’re right Sid. And it was all war on drugs, just say no bs. I think it’s changed b/c medicine has finally figured out that addiction is not a moral failing and that persons with substance abuse disorder are wounded people who need healing, not more punitive wounding. I agree with you. The 80’s was horrible to people who needed help not judgement.

    • Trillion says:

      My first reaction also. Our privilege is so common and expected, we don’t even think about it. It’s like air.

  7. Karla says:

    I literally had no idea…so if I understood the comments right:
    This is a nose spray to be administered in case of (suspected) overdose/drugging. It prevents immediate death from the (suspected) overdose and gives you a time window within which you can Call an ambulance/get medical help.
    I never heard of sth similar in Europe…but it sounds really useful.

  8. AnneL says:

    This is good news. Anything we can do to save lives.

    I guess I am part of the one in ten adults, or at least my mother is. Her second cousin (who is her age and a friend) had a grandson who died after leaving a college party last year. He hadn’t taken opioids, but he had used Cocaine according to his friends. I immediately called my daughter, who is in nursing school, and she said “It was laced with Fentanyl.” Turns out she was right. And she said that is a huge concern in NYC where she lives. It happens a lot.

    It was devastating because the father had died from MS just a month earlier.

  9. tate says:

    FYI for any Washington State residents: naloxone is FREE. Site – >

    • Peanut Butter says:

      That’s fantastic that WA will make it freely available! I hate to think about the price gouging that the pharmaceutical company may be sticking to the government, but I applaud WA for removing price barriers for people to get a life-saving drug.

      Anyone else having trouble with the busy videos and ads interfering with scrolling, reading comments, and submitting comments? At times, I get weird formatting issues with comments suddenly obscuring Celebitchy posts I’m not done reading, and fighting to keep the scrolling from jumping around, especially when trying to comment, while different things are running on this website. (Using the latest Android browser on my smartphone.) Really has gotten frustrating and user-unfriendly for me 😭

  10. Peanut Butter says:

    Thank goodness Narcan will be more readily available. But the $45 price tag and corporate profiteering are infuriating. Naloxone was first patented in 1961 and is readily available as a generic. It’s on WHO’s list of essential medications. But an older drug delivered via a cheap, lightweight plastic spray device costing $45 for only 2 doses is par for the course in our American corporatocracy.

  11. angrypineapple says:

    This is good news! I hope this change does not impact the free Narcan the library I work at is able to get from a local pharmacy.

  12. Mocha says:

    Just read Demon Copperhead (which is partially about the opioid crisis) and highly recommend it. (Restored my faith in literature for the masses and not literature professors / the Academy.)