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What to Know about Narcan in Pennsylvania

August 31, 2023

The first over-the-counter opioid overdose reversal medication is heading to stores this week.

On Wednesday, Emergent BioSolutions announced its product, Narcan, would be available in the coming days. Narcan is the nasal version of Naloxone, which is the standard treatment for opioid overdoses.

Narcan was approved by the FDA for over-the-counter use during March. The announcement comes as the nation continues to grapple with a national public health overdose crisis.

“The FDA remains committed to addressing the evolving complexities of the overdose crisis,” FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, MD, said in a statement following the approval of the drug. “As part of this work, the agency has used its regulatory authority to facilitate greater access to naloxone by encouraging the development of and approving an over-the-counter naloxone product to address the dire public health need.”

Here’s what you need to know:

  • In stores:  In a statement this week, the company said Narcan would be available at drug/pharmacy and grocery stores, as well as online retailers with a suggested retail price of $44.99.
  • The issue:  There have been more than 105,000 reported fatal overdoses in the 12-month period ending during February. These were primarily driven by synthetic opioids like illicit fentanyl, the FDA said.
  • Key Pennsylvania resources:  The commonwealth has a standing order to ensure Pennsylvanians can access naloxone at pharmacies without a prescription. The medication also is available for free from some local community-based organizations and via the mail through a state partnership.
  • On deck:  During July, the FDA approved RiVive, a naloxone nasal spray for over-the-counter use. The manufacturer says the product will be available during 2024. It will primarily be targeted to national harm reduction organizations and state governments.
  • Quotable:  In a statement today in recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said: “Drug overdose does not discriminate —rich or poor, Black or white, urban or suburban, drug overdoses reach every corner of our society.”

HAP and Pennsylvania’s hospitals are committed to providing care for patients with substance use disorder and other behavioral health needs. Learn more about our behavioral health advocacy.

Additional information about Naloxone in Pennsylvania is available online.