FDA approves first opioid treatment drug without prescription

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The FDA approved selling naloxone, also know as Narcan, without a prescription. Narcan can reverse overdoses of opioids including drugs such as heroin and fentanyl and oxycodone. This is the first opioid-treatment drug to be sold over the counter. Dr. Frank LoVecchio, Medical Director of Clinical Research at ASU’s College of Health Solutions, joins Ted to discuss.

LoVecchio said Narcan can stop over-doses by removing opioids from certain receptors that make the human body high. The FDA approved over-the-counter Narcan as a nasal spray. For the drug to be affective, it must be administered within four minutes. Currently, first responders carry Narcan.

“Police officers have it, obviously all EMS have it, there’ll be a time when it’s as prevalent as an AED… a defibrillator,” said LoVecchio.

This step is a key strategy in trying to control the nationwide overdose crisis which is thought to cause more than 100,000 death each year. The majority of those deaths are tied to opioids, primarily potent synthetic versions such as fentanyl.

“When I first heard that I was very excited because it decreases the stigma of it, you say if it’s over the counter it’s kind of safe, not a big deal,” said LoVecchio.

Narcan over-the-counter will be expensive, LoVecchio added. The price point will be around $1,500. Currently, some public health institutions provide the medication free-of-charge. Insurance companies tend to not cover over the counter medications.

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