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Narcan to be available on store shelves at local pharmacies

Posted at 6:43 PM, Sep 05, 2023

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Narcan as an over-the-counter drug in March, which allows the drug to be sold without any sort of prescription.

This week, Narcan rolls off the production line and onto drugstore shelves. The nasal spray is the first FDA-approved over-the-counter medicine to reverse opioid overdose.
In California, many local pharmacies and organizations already had Narcan readily available, but now access to the medication may be even easier.
According to San Luis Obispo County officials, in 2021, there were a total of 123 overdose deaths in the county.

“In the past year on average… we've heard of 56 [overdose] reversals using some form of naloxone every month. These are not reversals done by EMS or law enforcement — those are happening too, you know, in addition to this — but that 56 a month is by regular old community members," said Jenn Rhoads, SLO County Opioid Safety Coalition Coordinator.

Now the life-saving medication will be hitting store shelves nationwide.

“Anything that can save lives I think is worthwhile, but I don't want it to then have people think, well, I can do the drugs because, look, I can get the Narcan with no problems. It's two ways, but it's more important that they save the lives," said Avila Beach resident Mary Foppiano.

According to the Rite Aid and CVS websites, the nasal spray is available for $44.99 for two doses.

“In the state of California, since we already had pretty robust access and distribution for Narcan, I don't think that the FDA's ruling is going to impact access because they have already had fairly good access. I think it is wonderful for the rest of the country because not every state had the level of access and availability that we've been fortunate to have here in California," Rhoads added.

“I think that if it's convenient and they have the money, they'll buy it. But again, the people that need it are not necessarily the ones that are going to buy it," Foppiano said.

Some California lawmakers are already taking action against the high cost.

Assembly Bill 1060 looks to cap the cost of the life-saving medication to $10 or less, putting the requirement on Medi-Cal and private insurers to cover the cost.

“My hope would be that with it being over the counter and easily accessible — generally, the more accessible things are, the less costly they become. Hopefully, it's something that people are accessing and using and just kind of becomes part of everybody's, you know, first aid kit in their home, in their car, etc.," Rhoads said.

Rhoads says distribution through San Luis Obispo County will continue for free at several of their community distribution sites.

    Anyone with an address in SLO County can go to this website to get a Narcan kit mailed to them at no cost.