Narcan is coming to drug store shelves — for those who can afford it
The first opioid overdose treatment to be sold without a prescription will hit store shelves next month — but at a price some experts worry is too high for widespread use.
Why it matters: The individuals with the greatest need might not be able to afford a co-pay, if health plans even opt to cover over-the-counter Narcan, which will retail for $44.99.
- And 1 in 5 people with opioid use disorder are uninsured.
Driving the news: Manufacturer Emergent BioSolutions said on Wednesday that it's begun shipping out the two-dose, 4-milligram spray version of naloxone under the Narcan label to retailers like Walgreens, Walmart and Rite Aid.
- The initial distribution will be "several 100,000 cartons of Narcan," said company spokesperson Matt Hartwig.
- State and local government programs and harm reduction groups who distribute the treatment at no cost will be able to buy the packages for $41 starting Aug. 31.
- Pricing could still vary depending on the retailer.
Zoom in: On Tuesday, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts announced that it would fully cover over-the-counter Narcan for members.
- Medicaid private plans have the option of covering OTC drugs but might require state agencies to first add naloxone to formularies, according to the National Health Law Program.
- RiVive, another over-the-counter naloxone nasal spray, won approval in late July and could be available early next year at a lower price than Narcan.
- Naloxone acts in a fraction of the time it takes EMS technicians to arrive, which is critical when fentanyl can render a person unconscious within 90 seconds.
- The presence of synthetic opioids more potent than fentanyl, like nitazene, could require up to four doses of naloxone, meaning multiple packs.