Last Updated: Mar 24, 2023

Independent consultants from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) universally have suggested over-the-counter usage of the nasal spray known as Narcan to recuperate from opioid overdoses. It is expected that it will ominously widen access to life-saving care. Experts have said that it is the most frequently sold treatment to reverse opioid overdoses.

As per the report, the FDA is estimated to reach a decision by March 29 on whether to give approval to people to purchase the four-milligram nasal spray without the requirement of a prescription. Although the regulatory agency is not bound to take recommendations made by independent advisors, the agency usually considers them. A paramedic from PM Pediatrics in Raleigh, North Carolina, and a provisional voting member of the FDA advisory committee, Elizabeth Coykendall has said that there is no purpose to retaining this as a prescription, it might be so beneficial for saving some lives that are susceptible to overdose deaths.

Narcan is manufactured by Emergent BioSolutions. The officials from the company have said that the Narcan treatment will be accessible for over-the-counter use by late summer this year if the FDA grants approval for it by next month. Well, the cost of the treatment has not been disclosed by the company yet. A spokesperson of the firm, Matt Hartwig has said that the company has been planning the distribution of the drug with its key stakeholders such as retailers and government bodies.

Many states across the country have already started issuing blanket prescriptions that let pharmacies dispense Narcan, which is typically known as naloxone, with this, patients will not require to show a prescription. However, authorization from the FDA for the treatment for over-the-counter usage will help more people to gain access to treatment more efficiently in more locations.

An official from the nonprescription drug division of the FDA, Jody Green has said that if naloxone gets the status of a nonprescription drug, it might be retailed at many venues that have been inaccessible to customers before such as convenience stores, vending machines, big box stores, and supermarkets just like other nonprescription goods. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported more than 564,000 people have lost their lives due to opioids use in the United States since 1999. These people have been killed in three phases from prescription opioids, then from heroin, and lately from fentanyl.

The experts from the CDC have said that during the COVID-19 pandemic deaths due to opioid overdose shot up by 17 percent from around 69000 in 2020 to nearly 81000 in 2021. In 2017, the Donald Trump government first announced the opioid endemic as a public health emergency. The Biden government has been reforming the emergency assertion every 90 days since the president has taken over the US government. Senior vice president of regulatory affairs at Emergent BioSolutions, Manish Vyas has claimed that as per the data, every day around 187 people will lose their lives due to overdose, which is quite catastrophic and it has a deep human impact and everybody will be affected from this.

The chief of adolescent medicine from Massachusetts General Hospital, Scott Hadland has said that the extensive permeation of fentanyl into the drug supply across the country has shot up the menace of overdoses. Many people who are habitual of using fentanyl take imitation pills that they thought were recommended but essentially they have the extremely potent and often lethal opioid. Hadland has said that it shows there are cast-off exposures that are also increasing. He has said that there has been a spike in overdose fatalities among toddlers who are being exposed to fentanyl in public surroundings or elsewhere in the home itself.

Experts advise parents to keep Narcan at home in case of emergency. It will function like a fire extinguisher, which families should keep in their homes for safety. Unfortunately, the current access to Narcan is very difficult for most young adults, families, and communities in the country.

American Medical Association (AMA), Dr. Bobby Mukkamala stated that Narcan treatment should be available in the same way as Tylenol, which can treat a headache or nasal congestion. The AED device used to treat people with heart attacks should be available in public areas. Jessica Hulsey is the executive head of the Addiction Policy forum. She stated that Narcan should be reasonably priced at $20 per dose if sold over the counter.

Narcan comes in one dose and may need multiple doses to overcome an overdose. Narcan transmits opioids that attach to receptor sites in the nervous system. Gay Owens, the chief of global medical affairs at the company stated that nasal sprays prevent overdoses and reverse respiratory depression. Jody Green of the CDC stated that Narcan must always be administered immediately after an overdose is confirmed. It is therefore important to make sure the directions for using the nasal spray are simple.

Emergent BioSolutions found that 91 percent of the 71 participants in the study were able to read the label directions for over-the-counter drugs and that they were able to use Narcan properly in an overdose emergency. This study included adolescents and adults with low literacy. FDA recommended that the company put all five directions in chronological sequence on the Narcan carton’s back and include directions in its blister pack. At the advisory meeting, the company released a copy of the same. However, the federal regulatory authority has yet to evaluate it.