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Over The Counter Narcan vs. Overdose Deaths

Over The Counter Narcan vs. Overdose Deaths


For over 20 years, opioid overdose has been responsible for the serious illness or death of millions of people in the United States and around the world.  According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from opioid overdose increased by more than 17% from about 69,000 in 2020 to about 81,020 in 2021. A startling increase in just one year! Making matters worse, synthetic versions of opioids (e.g. Fentanyl) have flooded many neighborhoods and have even found their way into the hands of school aged children.

In 2015, to combat the epidemic the US Food and Drug Administration approved naloxone in several dosage forms. The most well recognized form is a nasal spray called Narcan.  

Naloxone is effective because it blocks the activity of the opioid medications that are causing respiratory depression.  While it does not work for all type of medications overdose, it does not have any addictive properties.  This significantly increases its safety profile as there aren't any concerns for abuse.

The biggest issue with Narcan was access and availability.  When first available, it had to be obtained only by prescription. Shortly after this, many states began allowing Pharmacists to use their professional judgment to dispense Narcan to those who may receive the most benefit without needing a prescription.  

At the end of March 2023, access to Narcan has now been expanded by the FDA and approved it to be sold Over The Counter (OTC), this accessibility is important in our fight against opioid overdose and death.

If you are currently taking pain medications or live with someone who is, ask us Pharmacist today about Narcan. We are happy to guide on, when and how to administer the medication. 


You can save a life!


The Biden-Harris Administration Takes Critical Action to Make Naloxone More Accessible and Prevent Fatal Overdoses from Opioids Like Fentanyl | HHS.gov