Naloxone is a drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdose. The FDA has approved three forms of this drug: injectable, auto-injectable, intranasal. Many people know this drug by the trade name Narcan, which is the pre-packaged nasal spray (NIDA, 2016). This drug is typically administered by first-responders (EMT’s, police) when called out to an overdose. Once administered, the drug reverses the effects of opioids and blocks the effects of opioids (NIDA, 2016).
Naloxone’s Role in the Opioid Epidemic
Most of us know someone who is or was addicted to opioids. Or, you likely know someone whose life has been touched by opioid addiction in some way. The risk of overdose death in people who use opioids is high—according to the recent Surgeon General’s Report, “Seventy-eight people die every day in the United States from an opioid overdose, and those numbers have nearly quadrupled since 1999” (HHS, 2016). In an effort to combat this reality, and to prevent unnecessary death, this drug has been made available to everyday people. In January of this year, Walgreens pharmacy announced that Naloxone is available without a prescription at any of their pharmacies in Arizona. Since February 2016, Walgreens has made the drug available without a prescription to 34 states and Washington D.C. (Johnsen, 2017).
Oftentimes, people who use opioids are too afraid to call emergency services when a friend overdoses. They are scared that they will be arrested for their use of opioids. This fear causes lives to be lost. The expansion of availability of a life-saving drug like Naloxone, without a prescription, can help save lives.
For more information:
Harm Reduction Coalition, Arizona– http://harmreduction.org/connect-locally/arizona/
Johnsen, Michael, 2017. Walgreens adds Arizona to list of states where naloxone is available without a prescription. Drug Store News. Accessed January 20, 2017 at: http://www.drugstorenews.com/article/walgreens-adds-arizona-list-states-where-naloxone-available-without-prescription
National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016. Naloxone. Accessed January 20, 2017 at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/naloxone
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Surgeon General, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Washington, DC: HHS, November 2016.