Opioid overdose reversal drug to be available on store shelves starting September

Updated: Aug. 30, 2023 at 6:00 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The maker of an opioid overdose reversal drug announced Wednesday it has begun shipping the product to retailers nationwide.

In March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved selling the leading version of naloxone without a prescription, setting Narcan on course to become the first opioid treatment drug to be sold over the counter.

The move was met largely with praise from groups focused on substance abuse treatment and recovery, including Virginia’s Harm Reduction Coalition. The group’s motto is “We love you. Be safe. Carry Naloxone.”

“It’s just so much easier to just be able to go to a CVS or Walgreens or wherever, and just pick it up the way you would pick up Tylenol or Band-aids, or you know, any other over-the-counter medicine that we use to take care of our friends and family,” Virginia Harm Reduction Coalition Director Danny Clawson told WDBJ7 in March.

Emergent BioSolutions, the maker of Narcan, announced Wednesday it had begun shipping the product to drug/pharmacy retailers as well as grocery stores and online retailers nationwide. They expect the boxes of Narcan to be available for purchase starting in September.

The 4-milligram naloxone nasal spray is the first FDA-approved product for treatment of an opioid overdose, including fentanyl. It was launched in 2016.

According to Emergent BioSolutions, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $44.99, coming to about $22.50 per dose. The price of the product will be set by individual retailers.

Up until now, the product was mostly being made available through harm reduction groups, first responders, and state and local government programs, as well as other similarly qualified groups.

The company said in a statement it is “focused on broadening distribution and maintaining affordability.” Emergent will lower its public interest price to $41 per two-dose carton, effective August 31, which is also known as National Overdose Awareness Day. Qualified groups can continue to use the company’s online portal to buy and ship bulk quantities of the product.

You can watch a tutorial on how to properly administer Narcan here: