In a monumental step that could save millions of lives, the Food and Drug Administration has approved an over-the-counter version of opioid overdose medication.
Naloxone, which is typically sold under the brand name Narcan, was previously only available via prescription after being approved in 2015. Due to the opioid crisis, many states have loosened restrictions on the medications, allowing pharmacies in certain areas to sell the drug without a prescription. On Wednesday, the FDA made the decision to permanently allow this medication in pharmacies nationwide without a script from a doctor.
The OTC version of Naloxone will be sold as a single dose in nasal spray form. However, it likely won’t be available until late summer. NBC News reports that the medication could be seen in groceries stores, convenience stores, and possibly vending machines. Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, encourages schools, restaurants, and even banks to purchase Naloxone to keep on hand at their establishments.
Pediatrician and addiction specialist Dr. Scott Hadland says Naloxone can save people “in minutes.” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf agrees, praising the decision to make access to this life-saving measure easier.
This move is just the latest in the fight against the epidemic. With the rise of fentanyl, drug overdose has seen a sharp increase. According to the FDA, from October 2021 to October 2022, there were over 101,750 reported fatal overdoses in the United States.