FDA Paves Way to OTC Naloxone Access To Prevent ODs
The FDA recently approved a new OTC form of naloxone nasal spray, meant to be available for people to purchase via dispensers and other less conspicuous places without the input of medical professionals. Naloxone is an opioid overdose reversal drug available by prescription and over the counter in certain states. In most localities, a user must take a training class to administer the lifesaving drug. Much debate surrounded removing the training requirements. For the FDA, the discussion centered not on using naloxone but on the importance of fine-tuning its instructions.
Advisory Committee Meetings on OTC Naloxone Nasal Spray
At a meeting involving the Nonprescription Drug Advisory Committee and Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee, pharmaceutical giant Emergent BioSolutions presented data and newly developed labeling for an OTC form of its nasal naloxone spray. (Typically, people who are prescribed naloxone have to take a short training class or meet other requirements.)
New instructions were written to help people without healthcare training in emergency treatment. Still, FDA reviewers cited various issues, ranging from user errors like dialing 911 first (rather than administering a dose) to the possibility that each blister packaging may need to contain instructions should users discard the box.
The FDA will work closely with manufacturers to ensure the design is simple and effective for people who have never used it before. "The design of the entire user interface plays an important role in how effective the product is at reversing opioid-induced respiratory depression and preventing death and other serious outcomes," they wrote briefly before the meeting.
The FDA Committees issue opinions to the FDA, which are usually respected in final decisions. While OTC Naloxone is likely soon to be approved, there will still be barriers to access, such as cost and locality.
Benefits of OTC Narcan/Naloxone
Naloxone (brand name Narcan) is a medication used to reverse opioid overdose rapidly. It works by blocking the effects of opioids in the brain and can quickly restore normal breathing in someone who overdosed on opioids. Narcan is typically administered by emergency medical personnel, but in recent years, some jurisdictions have made it available over the counter, meaning that anyone can purchase it without a prescription.
The benefits of Narcan being available over the counter include:
- Increased access: Making Narcan available over the counter can improve access to the medication, especially for those who may not have a prescription. The FDA has pointed out that price can still be a barrier, which must also be addressed through state or federal funding.
- Faster response: In specific environments, when Narcan is available over the counter, people can quickly obtain and administer the medication. This can be especially important when emergency medical services are not immediately available or every minute counts.
- Reduced stigma: Stigma is often a barrier to access. Making Narcan available over the counter can help reduce the stigma and help people understand that opioid addiction is a treatable medical condition.
- Potential to save lives: By making Narcan available over the counter, more people may be able to access the medication and potentially save lives in cases of opioid overdose. Studies have shown that increasing access to Narcan can save lives.
While Narcan can be a lifesaving medication, it is not a substitute for long-term treatment and support for opioid addiction. Most people need additional medical help after an overdose.
If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, seeking professional help and support is important.
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