FDA gives the ok for opioid overdose reversal drug to be sold over the counter

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FDA approves nasal spray that treats fentanyl AND opioid overdoses as they’re happening for over-the-counter use – meaning it can be sold in vending machines and big box stores

Narcan, the nasal spray that rapidly reverses opioid overdoses, can now be sold over the counter without a prescription, the Food and Drug Administration said.

The approval announced on Wednesday caps a long-fought battle by public health officials and addiction medicine experts to make the antidote more readily available, a move they have argued would save hundreds of thousands of lives. 

FDA Commissioner Dr Robert Califf said: ‘Today’s approval of OTC naloxone nasal spray will help improve access to naloxone, increase the number of locations where it’s available and help reduce opioid overdose deaths throughout the country.’

Narcan could become available at big box retailers, vending machines, supermarkets, and convenience stores as soon as this summer. 

A panel of outside experts voted unanimously last month to broaden access to the drug in the hope of avoiding another record-setting year for fatal drug overdoses. 

Narcan is already available without a prescription in all 50 states, where state leaders have issued standing orders for pharmacists to sell the drug to anyone who asks for it. 

But not all pharmacies carry it and those that do must keep it behind the counter. And even without the necessity of a doctor’s order, many people feel reluctant to approach a pharmacist for the medication, wary of the stima attached to drug misuse. 

Narcan, also known as naloxone, is an opioid antagonist. It is used by inserting the nozzle of the drug into the nose and spraying it.

The spray is impressively effective. A recent study by Brigham and Women’s hospital in Massachusetts found that over 93 percent of people given naloxone survived their overdose. 

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