FDA approves Narcan to be sold over-the-counter

The FDA has given the green light to sell the overdose-reversing drug Naloxone without a prescription.

Since the opioid epidemic sparked a few years ago, Naloxone – or Narcan – has become available through outreach organizations and health departments, but you have to know where to go.

However, soon it will be on a shelf in every drug, convenience and grocery store.

"Narcan saves lives and we know that, and the issue that we've had is getting that life-saving tool out to the public," said Erik McIntosh, a Nurse Practitioner at Rush University Medical Center.

The FDA approved the over-the-counter sale of the nasal spray, which is the easiest version of the drug to administer. It works as an opioid antidote and is safe even if administered to someone who isn't suffering an overdose.

The spray will come in a package of two 4-milligram doses.


John Roberts is the co-founder and president of the outreach organization "HERO". He said he’s completed 500 Narcan trainings this year and emphasized Narcan is not dangerous.

"I've never seen a manufacturer do this, but they say even pregnant women and children can take this," said Roberts.

McIntosh said it doesn't matter if you are a user, or know someone who is — everyone should carry Narcan. He was on the CTA Blue Line in August when he witnessed an overdose.

"She was unresponsive, pupils dilated, track marks in her arms. I knew this was an overdose. I'd seen it in my patients. I've seen it in the public. And so I started yelling for Narcan. No one had Narcan, and then I went to the train conductor and they said even if we did, we couldn't use it," McIntosh said.

"But I don't know what happened to her in the end, and had I had that Narcan there, I think her chances of survival would have been greatly enhanced."

First Responders have been carrying it for nearly a decade. Just about 10 days ago in New Lenox, officers responded to a call of a person not breathing. They raced into the home armed with Narcan.

"They administered the first dose of Narcan. Naloxone did not work, and administer the second dose, the subject came to and began breathing," said New Lenox Police Chief Louis Alessandrini. "To my understanding, he did survive."

The chief adds they use Narcan three to five times a year since they started carrying it in 2015.

What we don't know is how much it will cost the consumer to purchase the Narcan. It used to be hundreds of dollars, but has come down significantly.

In addition, we don't know when exactly it will hit store shelves. The thought is maybe sometime late summer.