US FDA Approves First Over-the-Counter Drug for Opioid Overdose Reversal

FILE – The overdose-reversal drug Narcan is displayed during training for employees of the Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC), Dec. 4, 2018, in Philadelphia. The death of a Connecticut seventh grader from an apparent fentanyl overdose has renewed calls for schools to carry the opioid antidote naloxone. The 13-year-old student in Hartford died Saturday after falling ill in school two days earlier. The school did not have naloxone, which is known by the brand name Narcan. But now city officials are vowing to put it in all schools. Fatal overdoses among young people in the U.S. have been increasing amid the opioid epidemic but remain relatively uncommon. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file)
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The first ever over-the-counter version of the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday, a move that could dramatically increase access to the lifesaving medication.

The FDA approved Narcan, the brand name version of the drug manufactured by Emergent BioSolutions.

Naloxone is a medicine that can help reduce opioid overdose deaths and when administered timely, usually within minutes of the first signs of an overdose, can counter the effects.

According to the FDA, prescription Narcan is currently the most commonly sold emergency treatment for opioid overdose in U.S. pharmacies. It was first approved in 2015 to treat known or suspected opioid overdoses for people of all ages, including newborns.

Until now, it was only available with a prescription, though all 50 states have found workarounds to make the drug available at the pharmacy.

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