FDA approval of over-the-counter naloxone spray cheered by Dare Health officials

By on March 29, 2023

Local officials on the frontlines of the fight against the opioid epidemic welcomed the March 29 announcement that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Narcan, 4 milligram (mg) naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray, for use without a prescription.

That means the drug that “rapidly reverses the effects of opioid overdose and is the standard treatment for opioid overdose,” will be available directly to consumers in drug stores, convenience stores, grocery stores, gas stations and online.

As reported by the Voice, the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services (DCDHHS) has already started a program that dispenses naloxone, fentanyl strips, and other resources, to local businesses so patrons can pick them up for free. (The Outer Banks Voice – Dare Health officials and merchants partner to save lives)

The FDA statement indicated that the availability and price of the naloxone product has not yet been determined. It also noted that for the 12-month period that ended in October 2022, more than 101,750, fatal drug overdoses were reported in the U.S., primarily driven by synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

Responding the FDA announcement, DCDHHS Health Education & Outreach Supervisor Kelly Nettnin Fleming stated in an email that “since our first Community Health Needs Assessment took place in the early 2000’s, substance use has remained a top health priority in Dare County. The FDA’s approval of over-the-counter naloxone will increase access to the life-saving drug, expand the number of locations where it is available in our community, and reduce opioid overdose deaths.”

“Naloxone (Narcan) is a life-saving rescue drug for someone who has overdosed on an opioid,” echoed Roxana Ballinger, Health Education & Outreach Director for the Saving Lives Task Force.  “Having easy access to this drug by making it over the counter is an important big step. The Saving Lives Task Force supports this move by the FDA to expand access to Naloxone.”

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