New Jersey advocates applaud FDA’s decision to allow over-the-counter Narcan

The move will allow the lifesaving medication to be sold directly to consumers in places like drug and grocery stores and online.

Matt Trapani and Ali Reid

Mar 30, 2023, 1:21 AM

Updated 472 days ago

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New Jersey advocates and members of the medical community are applauding the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of allowing Naloxone spray for over-the- counter, non-prescription use for drug overdoses.
The move will allow the lifesaving medication to be sold directly to consumers in places like drug and grocery stores and online.
“This is a hugely important, life-saving measure that many of us in the addiction psychiatry community have been waiting for, for a very long time,” says Dr. James Sherer, director of Addiction Medicine Consult Service at Hackensack Meridian- Jersey Shore Medical Center.
Some are saying that it is a big step forward in terms of breaking down the stigma surrounding drug use.
“As accessing Naloxone becomes as easy as accessing aspirin, we are going to move to a place where drug use isn’t going to be used as a moral sin, but perhaps more as a treatable medical condition,” says Dr. Anthony Accurso, medical director of Addiction Medicine at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center.
Family members and friends can now be properly equipped and prepared to help their loved ones. There were more than 100,000 overdoses in the United States last year.
Opioids have very dangerous side effects, as too high of a dosage can cause people to stop breathing. Administering Naloxone can interject the negative reaction, doctors say.
“The Naloxone molecule will go in the brain - knock the opioid off of the brain and the person will wake up,” Accurso says.
Local organizations like the New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition have been fighting for broader access to Narcan for years. They've distributed tens of thousands of doses of Naloxone to anyone across the state who requests it since 2019. All forms were available without prescription in New Jersey even before the FDA announcement.
“I’m thrilled the federal government has followed New Jersey’s lead,” says Jenna Mellor, executive director of the New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition.
Naloxone is free through the organization.
As for the over-the-counter version, the timeline for availability and price is determined by the manufacturer and could still take months.


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