Starting next week, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and other pharmacies nationwide will begin selling over-the-counter Narcan, a naloxone nasal spray that serves as an overdose reversal drug.
According to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration news release, the nasal spray’s quantity and availability will depend on the manufacturer.
An article from Yale Medicine said making naloxone available over the counter could provide resources for those at risk of overdosing.
“What’s more, it makes it easier for family members to keep it on hand, if needed, for a loved one with opioid use disorder, a chronic brain disease characterized by compulsive use of opioids despite harmful consequences,” the article said.
The FDA’s release said there were more than 101,750 fatal overdoses reported during a 12-month period ending in October 2022, primarily from synthetic opioids like illicit fentanyl.
“If you suspect someone is having an opioid overdose, administer Narcan immediately,” Dr. Holly Geyer, an addiction medicine specialist, said in a Mayo Clinic article. “It is always a medical emergency if naloxone is given. Call 911 right away.”
While public health experts are working on making medication more accessible, a Morning Brew article said uninsured people do not have the same access.
The article said that one-fifth of the people with opioid use disorder are uninsured and cannot afford the $45 price tag for naloxone. Some nonprofits and programs such as Project Opioid give out Narcan for free.
The Monroe County Health Department gives out Narcan for free and offers a training program for individuals who need instruction.