Amid opioid crisis, FDA looks at over-the-counter Narcan

By WVUA 23 News Student Reporter Asher Redd

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has started pushing for Narcan to be sold over-the-counter amid a nationwide opioid crisis.

Narcan is the brand name of the drug naloxone, used to revive people experiencing an opioid overdose.

Currently in all 50 states, it is not required to have a prescription to obtain naloxone, however each state’s laws and policies add addition barriers.

“Naloxone is a medication that is saving lives in my community and in my hospital every day,” said Dr. Trent Hall, an addiction psychiatrist.

Like naloxone, Narcan works by blocking opioids from brain receptors for up to 90 minutes, which is long enough for an overdose victim to get to the emergency room.

“Opioids, if they’re prescribed and used correctly, can be beneficial. But it’s when people start to abuse those is when the problem hits,” said Breana Freeman with the Tuscaloosa Police Department.

Alabama is the top state in the country for Narcan prescriptions.

“That kind of confusion is exactly what we do not want,” Hall said.

Freeman said there are pros and cons to allowing easier accessibility.

“It’s great that it’s available, especially for family members of addicts. Or if you have a friend you know is using opioids, it’s good to have that,” Freeman said.

What’s not good, Freeman said, is addicts believing they can overdose and have zero issues because naloxone exists.

“Narcan is very simple to use. It is safe. It is effective. It’s something that all of us can carry in our pocket in case we come across somebody who is experiencing an overdose,” Hall said.

The FDA has approved four variations of naloxone since 1971, including injectables and the more common Narcan nasal spray.

The FDA plans to make its final decision on March 29.

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