ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Wednesday the approval of Naloxone, an overdose-reversing nasal spray, for over the counter, non-prescription sale.
Meanwhile, local experts say the demand for this product is on the rise.
It is estimated that more than 100,000 people die of drug overdoses every year — a majority of those are tied to opioids.
Organizations like Trillium Health are already working to reduce those numbers. They hand out over 2,000 free Narcan kits to those in need annually, according to officials there.
Senior Director of Community Prevention and Harm Reduction Services at Trillium Health Julie Ritzler-Shelling explained that the drug works by connecting to neuro-receptors in the brain, essentially allowing the body to resume normal functions such as breathing.
Ritzler-Shelling says she has experienced, firsthand, a growing demand for Narcan.
“We find that more people are requesting more than one kit, more people are requesting kits to have on hand because they encounter people who may have used their kits and may have run out and want everyone to have Narcan…so we have definitely seen a need and an increased need,” Ritzler-Shelling told News 8.
Ritzler-Shelling emphasized that Narcan cannot hurt anyone, it can only help. Also, if you are not taking opioids, Narcan will not impact your body.
Ritzler-Shelling hopes that by increasing access to the drug, people in underserved communities can save lives too.
“I firmly believe everyone in this community should have Narcan on them at all times. You just never know who you might come across who might need your help. This is literally a lifesaving medication,” Ritzler-Shelling said.
In addition, special training is not required to administer Narcan. The medicine bottle is placed in the nose and sprayed into the nasal passages.
If the person does not rouse within two to three minutes, experts recommend giving them a second dose.
For those who may be skeptical about the widespread use of Narcan, Ritzler-Shelling offers this:
“A person who is in overdose and the overdose is fatal and they die, cannot be served. Cannot get into treatment. Cannot get into recovery,” Ritzler-Shelling said. “In order to truly provide the widest and broadest amount of services to individuals we have to make this widely available.”
Officials expect Narcan to be available over the counter by the end of this summer, but it is still unknown exactly how much the product would cost.
Anyone with questions on using Narcan, officials with Trillium Health encourage anyone to contact their facility, which offers both virtual and in-person Narcan training.