FDA approves over the counter Narcan use, local addiction expert reacts

The overdose antidote will be available by late summer
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 9:19 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 30, 2023 at 1:28 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - History was made Wednesday in the fight against America’s drug overdose epidemic: the FDA approved the opioid overdose drug Narcan for over-the-counter use.

It’s given as a nasal spray and can reverse the effects of a person experiencing an overdose on opioids. The FDA approved the sale of Narcan without a prescription.

By late summer, the overdose antidote will be available over the counter and can be sold at convenience and grocery stores. The nasal spray will come in two four-milligram doses in case the person overdosing doesn’t respond to the first dose.

Tina Baeten, clinical supervisor at the Jackie Nitschke Center, said prior to the FDA’s approval you needed special training to give Narcan.

“The FDA recognizes that it’s user friendly enough, particularly the nasal spray that people do not need a medical professional to administer it. It’s over the counter, makes a lot of sense. Certainly, going to save some lives so it changes things a lot,” said Baeten.

Nearly every state in the U.S. allows pharmacists or other qualified organizations to provide Narcan without a personal prescription to those at risk of an overdose, but making it available over the counter will make access even easier.

Baeten says this decision could reduce the stigma surrounding addiction.

“I think one of the things that it does is it really creates both awareness and it essentially speaks to valuing the lives of people who have addiction issues and until you really understand the disease of addiction and the impact on the brain related to addiction it’s really hard to have compassion for it,” said Baeten.

Baeten said the next step is educating the public, getting the word out about the dangers of addiction and the value of treatments during moments of vulnerability.

“Remember you’re not alone and that there are other ways of being able to do life and to deal with stress and to you know basically ways to get treatment for addiction,” she said.

The FDA approved Narcan to be sold over the counter.