Will The Opioid Overdose Antidote, Narcan, Soon Be Sold Over The Counter?

When someone takes more than an intended amount of a drug it can lead to a dangerous result known as an overdose. Overdosing on a drug can not only cause adverse health effects or long-term damage, it can also be lethal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. is in the midst of a long-time overdose epidemic with opioids – a type of pain-killing drug that can be highly addictive. Since 1999, deaths from drug overdose have increased fivefold, with some 3 out of 4 overdose deaths coming from opioids in the year 2020. Notably, deaths from opioid-related incidents come from both recreational and prescription use.

One drug helping to fight the number of deaths from opioid overdose is Naloxone, whose brand name is Narcan. Narcan is given in the event of an overdose to help reverse its effects. While Narcan is widely available without a prescription, you still need to talk to a pharmacist to get it. That makes it a behind-the-counter (BTC) drug, as opposed to over-the-counter (OTC). However, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is rethinking that policy. Here's everything you need to know.

FDA considers making Narcan available over the counter

According to CNN, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the agency's advisers plan to reconsider the current classification of Narcan in the hopes of making it available over the counter (OTC) — without a prescription or the need to meet with a pharmacist behind the counter. Notably, while Narcan does not currently require a prescription, many pharmacists do not carry the life-saving drug, which is hampering nationwide access. There are many pros to consider for making Narcan available on the shelf.

For starters, more people with Narcan means that it will be used more, which means fewer deaths from opioid overdose. Since the U.S. is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic, accessibility to Narcan is paramount. The nasal spray version of Narcan is also designed for use by people without any medical training. Plus the drug does not appear to have any harmful effects on users, even those who do not have opioids in their blood system. However, some health experts note that over-the-counter Narcan may prevent intervention opportunities from healthcare professionals who could address the root problem of addiction.