Overdose antidote Narcan is now available over the counter
Narcan, a nasal spray that can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose, became available over the counter at major retailers for the first time this week.
Why it matters: With overdose deaths rising across the country, the Food and Drug Administration reclassified naloxone as a nonprescription medication — but the cost may put it out of reach for those who need it most.
Driving the news: Manufacturer Emergent BioSolutions said it's already begun shipping out the two-dose, 4-milligram spray version of naloxone under the Narcan label to retailers like Walgreens, Walmart and Rite Aid.
Zoom in: Oregon's Legislature approved a bill in August expanding access to naloxone in public buildings, schools and police stations.
Between the lines: A two-dose package of Narcan will retail for $44.99. According to Emily Skogrand, a clinical pharmacist at Oregon Health & Science University, that kind of price creates a barrier.
- However, Skogrand said pharmacists will still be able to write a prescription for the medication, and with insurance, it typically costs $10 to $50.
Yes, but: The rescue drugs, which are highly effective if administered quickly after an overdose, will only be useful if bystanders feel comfortable using them.
Here are a few ways to recognize an overdose:
- Loud snoring or gurgling noises
- A slow or erratic pulse
- Being unresponsive or unconscious
- The skin turning pale gray and lips or fingertips turning bluish
If you encounter someone having an overdose, immediately call 911.
- If you have Narcan, tilt the person's head back and administer the spray in either nostril by firmly pressing the plunger to release the entire dose.
- If the person remains unconscious, administer a second dose into the opposite nostril and wait for emergency assistance.
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