As an attempt to combat this ever-increasing heroin epidemic, many states and pharmacies have begun to press local governments for the right to sell over the counter Narcan (Naloxone) at pharmacies and drug stores in their communities. This has been a surprisingly uphill battle as many lawmakers and agents of the government have been hard pressed to admit that there is, in fact, a heroin epidemic and that the “War on Drugs” just isn’t cutting it. However, in a shocking but progressive twist of events, CVS and a few other pharmaceutical chains have begun to make headway, and have approved 14 states to sell Narcan over the counter.
24 Hour Substance Abuse Hotline – Get Help Now
What is Narcan?
Naloxone or the generic name Narcan is a drug that immediately halts the effects of heroin and other derivatives such as Morphine, Oxycodone, Codeine, Methadone, and Vicodin. The fast acting effect of this drug prevents overdose and can bring someone back from the brink of death. It can be a spray that is administered intranasally or into the muscle via an IV injection. The agent works by ejecting the opioids from the opioid receptors in the brain and usually begins to show signs within 5 minutes. The chemicals will stay in the brain anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes which is more than enough time for the administer to continue with CPR or help until an emergency response team can be called.
What is the Need for OTC Narcan?
The last few years have seen such an alarming increase in overdose and death rates due to the heroin epidemic, many communities are at a loss of what to do. Fire Departments, Police Stations, and EMT’s can barely keep up in some states. Selling Narcan over the counter, and with proper training, will not only reduce the death toll from overdose but it will also decrease funding that would otherwise be going to the countless 911 calls that are flooded in daily.
Drug overdoses have officially become the leading cause of accidental death in the US. In 2015 alone, there were a reported 55,403 lethal drug overdoses. Out of that number, 20,101 were overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 of them were overdose deaths related to heroin. That is more than 50% of the accidental deaths for the entire year.
The benefits of selling Narcan over the counter is that family members and loved ones of addicts can aid the fight on the front lines, so they no longer have to find their loved one or child slumped over and blue, and not be able to help. Administering Narcan immediately gives the user more than a 90% chance of surviving. Whereas without it, permanent brain damage due to lack of oxygen can be fast acting, permanent, and fatal.
So Which States can Sell Narcan Over the Counter?
Up until this past year, only Massachusetts and Rhode Island had approved the sale of Narcan without a prescription. However, CVS has announced that they will sell Narcan over the counter in 12 more states, including, Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.
While this is definitely great news and a step in the right direction, there is still a lot of work to do. For example, the states with the highest overdose rates are New Jersey, Florida, and Ohio, and two of those states (Florida and Ohio) have not yet permitted the selling of Narcan without a prescription. However, harm reduction programs and local government have issued the approval for a clean needle exchange in Miami for some time in 2016. This is a massive step in the right direction, it will allow users to have safer methods of injection, as well as having staff close by that is trained in administering Narcan.
The Uphill Battle Against the Heroin Epidemic
One of the hardest issues facing the crisis is the fact that the most common agent in this epidemic is a synthetic opioid group called Fentanyl and Carfentanil. Fentanyl is an FDA approved medication that is extremely potent and is only legally administered by doctors after a major invasive surgery or for patients undergoing chemotherapy. However, with the rise of overdoses due to illegal use, the US and China have officially banned the importation of factory made fentanyl into the states.
Even with the ban, people are still finding routes to continue manufacturing and distributing the agent in the US. Carfentanil has been the root of most of the overdoses, and the trouble lies in the fact that illegal manufacturers have discovered how to create it in clandestine labs. Therein, they can make it as potent as they want. Users who are expecting the usual potency from a bag of heroin, are usually taken off guard to find that the potency of the dose, when mixed with lab made Carfentanil, resulting in an almost immediate overdose, even when only a small amount is injected.
The allowance of over the counter Narcan would help to prevent countless users from death by overdose. It would reduce the costs of hundreds of fire stations and emergency response teams, therein lowering the taxes paid by Americans. Since the administration of Narcan is pretty simple, all manufacturers would need to do is stick the directions on the side of the package. Government and local communities who have not yet approved the sale of over the counter Narcan will soon be faced with an ultimatum, face hundreds of deaths or provide a safe and effective alternative.
24 Hour Addiction Treatment Hotline – Get Help Now
Freedom From Addiction
If you have found yourself suffering from alcoholism or addiction, you are not alone! If you are ready to change your life and live free of addiction, then FindAddictionRehabs.com can help. We give you the jump start to recovery you need. Our program is unique in that it doesn’t just treat the addiction, it treats the whole person. We are with you the steps of the way from detox to aftercare. For more information on our program, call 1-877-959-7271 today.