FDA approves Naloxone over-the-counter, stores to see Narcan branded items

WAYNE COUNTY, MICH. (CBS DETROIT)- Wednesday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Narcan, an overdose-reversing nasal spray, for over-the-counter, non-prescription sale. The FDA green light marks the first naloxone product approved for use without a prescription. 

In due time, Narcan treatments will appear in grocery stores and pharmacies.

CBS News Detroit talked with Wayne State Professor of Pharmacy Dr. Victoria Tutag Lehr. Lehr, says as of recent times she and her pharmacy colleagues have been expecting an announcement similar to Wednesday’s.

“We were anticipating this in the addiction medicine community and in the pharmacy community,” she said.

The healthcare provider says it will help get the item into more hands.

“Many people don’t want to come an approach us at the counter they feel we are being judgemental that they are asking for naloxone..many times they don’t want to wait for the processing of the prescription,” Dr. Tutag Lehr added.

Provisional data from the CDC reveals 101,751 reported fatal overdoses in the 12-month period ending in October, the majority involved opioids. Previous studies suggest bystanders who carried naloxone helped saved lives. 

“If someone is in an overdose situation people will hesitate to call the police or first responders. The first response is we’ll take care of this ourselves,” she continued.

According to Michigan Overdose Data to Action, in January Wayne county EMS responded to 314 probable opioid overdoses. For the same timeframe in Oakland County, the number is 98.

The FDA is encouraging the manufacturer to make Narcan affordable, as the country battles an overdose epidemic.  

“Might be 30 dollars and that is unattainable, to many people that’s quite a bit of money,” Dr. Tutag Lehr continued.

Experts say Narcan is also fairly simple to administer, putting the overdose victim on their back, inserting the tip of the device into their nostril, and pushing the spray. Healthcare providers say, the treatment usually is effective for up to 90 minutes. 

With the treatment going over the counter doctors believe it will help reduce the stigma surrounding the medication…similar to other over-the-counter medicines like Ibuprofen.