As with many places in America, the people of Pennsylvania have been hit hard by the opioid crisis. This has led to an unprecedented response and coordination from pharmaceutical companies, health professionals, and law enforcement to mitigate the problem.
One such response is the development of Narcan® to reverse the effects of an overdose and save lives. The FDA has approved an over-the-counter formulation to make this antidote more accessible to the people who need it most.
What is Narcan?
Narcan is the brand name for a formulation of the opioid antagonist naloxone HCI. Opioid antagonists bond with opioid receptors in the brain, blocking the effects of drugs like heroin and other opiates. When someone is overdosing, Narcan acts fast to reverse the effects and prevents death.
This antidote has been available to law enforcement and other first responders as a front-line defense against overdose deaths in the field. Now, it will be available over the counter to the general population.
What over-the-counter Narcan means for Pennsylvanians
This marks the first time an overdose-reversing medication is available without a prescription. Although this decision only applies to Narcan, generic forms of the drug may soon be over-the-counter pending FDA approval. The regulatory agency is also urging pharmaceutical companies to make sure that it’s affordable to people who need access as well.
The wider availability of Narcan means easier access since it can be found in drug stores, supermarkets, or even gas stations. Previously, people could only access the medication through community centers, public health facilities, and authorized first responders to carry and dispense it.
In addition to reversing the effects of an overdose, prescription-free Narcan could provide a second chance for those needing drug dependent treatment. It may even help with criminal defense for drug-related crimes in some situations.
Most of all, the easier availability of Narcan will further reduce the toll of opioid dependence by preventing overdose deaths.