ADPH applauds FDA's approval of over-the-counter Narcan availability
Alabama health leaders are applauding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a life-saving medication for over-the-counter nonprescription use. Narcan is the leading form of naloxone. The nasal spray can help reverse an overdose of opioids in minutes.
The Alabama Department of Public Health says the opioid crisis has become a widespread problem. Dr. Wes Stubblefield with ADPH said this new approval will help with harm reduction and save lives.
“So, what this means is that for this specific dose and kind of medication, which is a 4mg dose that’s delivered in the nose using a nose spray... This can be sold at any place that may sell medication, including convenience stores or gas stations, potentially making it more available to the public," he explained.
Dr. Stubblefield said many people have been affected by the opioid crisis and solutions are needed. He said access to this drug can possibly push recovery.
“So, if people have this treatment, and they can reverse someone’s overdose, preventing death in that individual, then that individual can then go and seek treatment and hopefully come out on the other side of their addiction and move into recovery,” he said.
In addition to Narcan, naloxone is available in an injectable form and in other doses. The other formulations and dosages of naloxone will remain available by prescription only. Therefore, the standing order by State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris will remain in place for naloxone and does not expire. The standing order allows pharmacists to dispense naloxone formulations and dosages that are prescription only. Medicaid patients can access naloxone through prescription.
“The Alabama Pharmacy Association applauds the FDA's decision to make this life-saving drug available without a prescription to anyone who needs it,” said Louise Jones, APA chief executive officer in a press release. “Only the Narcan 4 mg nasal spray version has been approved for over-the-counter (OTC) use. The Alabama current statewide standing order issued by the state health officer will remain in place as the injectable version will still require a prescription. It should be noted that Alabama Medicaid recipients have coverage for the nasal spray, but Medicaid requires a prescription for OTC products. APA, in collaboration with the Alabama Department of Public Health and Alabama Medicaid, has worked to maintain access for our state’s most vulnerable population.”
ADPH said there is no specific timeline right now on when the medication will be available for direct purchase.
Naloxone information can be viewed on ADPH's website by clicking here.
Additional resources are also available here.