LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — A drug that can rapidly reverse opioid overdoses could soon be available to anyone without a prescription.
Naloxone, also sold under the brand name Narcan, is a medication that has been used for decades to quickly reverse the effects of an overdose from opioids, including prescription painkillers, as well as heroin and fentanyl. If the FDA approves the nasal spray for over-the-counter use, people could buy it in supermarkets, convenience stores or even vending machines.
The agency is expected to make its final decision by the end of March, but in the meantime, some local health departments are working to get Narcan in the community right now for free.
"In response to the opioid epidemic and the growing number of overdose deaths in our community, our purpose is to flood our community with Narcan," Dr. Audrey Arona, District Health Director for Gwinnett Newton Rockdale Health District, said.
With that mission in mind, the department has created the emergency kits, which include the spray version of Narcan, a carrying case, instructions and info on how to recognize an overdose. The health district has more than 5,000 kits available for anyone 18 and older with plans to create more as needed.
"Most people would say that they don't need one of these because they're not around people at risk of an overdose. But that's really not true," Dr. Arona explained. "All of us are really close to people who could experience an overdose. It's simple as a family or friend borrowing medication for a headache, and it being laced with fentanyl. Or walking into a grocery store or convenience store and seeing someone there with an overdose."
The kits are available at the following locations, and free training for individuals and groups is also available:
- Lawrenceville Health Center – 455 Grayson Hwy, Suite 300, Lawrenceville, GA 30046
- Norcross Health Center – 5030 Georgia Belle Court, Norcross, GA 30093
Need immediate help?
Call Georgia Crisis & Access Line (GCAL).
Provides access to services and immediate crisis help. Available 24 hours 7 days a week. 1-800-715-4225