Logan Self was driving through Fort Worth when he noticed a car stopped in the middle of a three-lane highway. Inside was a man suffering from a drug-induced overdose.
“Good thing I had Narcan on me, because he might not have made it,” Self said of the man, who recovered.
Soon, the general public will have access to not just Narcan, a brand of naloxone, but other generic versions of the drug. On March 29, the Food and Drug Administration approved the prescription nasal spray that counteracts opioid overdoses; the spray will be sold over the counter.
Self works for Fort Behavioral Health, a Fort Worth-based organization that runs addiction treatment programs. He called the FDA’s decision as likely a life-saving impact across the nation.
“You’re certainly going to see a decrease in the number of overdose deaths,” Self said. “With the way substance abuse and addiction is trending upwards, which is why we’ve seen an uptick in overdoses, it’s a preventative measure, it’s harm reduction at the end of the day.”
“If people are still alive, then they still have the opportunity to recover.”
In the past year, more than 5,000 drug-related fatalities occurred in Texas. More than 100,000 drug-related fatalities occurred in the nation each year for the past two years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The decision marks a significant achievement for public health officials and treatment experts, like Self, who have been advocating for the wider availability of this medication as a step toward reducing Texas’ soaring drug-related fatality rates.
Thousands of doses of Narcan have been distributed by outreach workers, health care providers, and emergency responders across Texas. Narcan has become a vital tool for combating this devastating public health emergency, according to Dr. Stuart Pickell, an internal medicine physician at Texas Health Resources Fort Worth.
“If you’re with somebody who’s taking a narcotic, and they become unresponsive, Narcan would be one way to reverse it,” Pickell said. “It works pretty quickly.”
Despite the importance of the prescription medication, easy availability of it may still be hard to come by for those who use drugs, as well as for their friends and family members.
Of the almost 17 million naloxone doses that were distributed in 2021 across the United States, only 2.64 million were dispensed by pharmacies, according to an FDA-support report.
Obtaining Narcan should become easier with its over-the-counter status.
A two-dose package of prescription Narcan is often free to people covered under Medicaid or private insurance, or has a co-payment of less than $10, according to employees at Walgreens and CVS in Fort Worth.
However, public and private insurance programs do not usually cover most over-the-counter medicines, they said. It may take several months to determine if an exception will be made for Narcan.
Recently, Walgreens’ Lancaster Avenue location was charging $135.99 to customers without insurance for a two-dose box of Narcan. Similarly, CVS on Berry Street charged $130 for the same medication.
Emergent BioSolutions, the manufacturer of Narcan, has not disclosed the price for the over-the-counter version of the medication. The company did not mention any price details in a statement issued on Wednesday morning after the FDA’s announcement.
Disclosure: Texas Health Resources is a financial supporter of the Fort Worth Report. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.
Matthew Sgroi is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com.