CLEVELAND — As opioid overdose deaths continue to climb, soon a medication used to prevent those deaths is becoming more available.

What You Need To Know

  • The FDA approved the sale of Naloxone over the counter

  • The over-the-counter version of the drug will be in nasal spray form only

  • The drug said two doses of the drug will cost less than $50

Naloxone or Narcan quickly reverses an opioid overdose.

Early this year, the Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of the drug over the counter.

Making naloxone more widely available is one way Ashley Jones hopes will help save more lives. Jones is the Emergency Medicine Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center, calling the opioid epidemic a “public health crisis.”

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 5,000 Ohioans died because of an accidental drug overdose in 2021.

In June of the year, according to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, there were at least five drug overdose deaths in the county in just a 12-hour period.

“Everybody can benefit from knowing about over-the-counter naloxone,” said Jones.

Naloxone typically comes in two FDA-approved forms: injectable and prepackaged nasal spray. However, only the nasal spray version will be made available over the counter to make administering the drug easier.

What won’t be easy, Jones said, is stopping the stigma tied to the drug.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know what lead somebody on their journey. I don’t know how they, unfortunately, ended up in the situation. But what we do know is that most of the time these [overdoses] are unintentional. And, so we’re just here to help save people and we’re not here to judge,” Jones told Spectrum News.

Aside from the stigma, an even bigger concern Jones has is cost.

Emergent BioSolutions, the maker of the over-the-counter naloxone, will determine its cost and availability. The company previously said two doses of the drug will likely be under $50. 

“Unfortunately, there are people who can’t even pay $5 for this type of medication,” said Jones.

Regardless, making Naloxone more widely available is a big step, Jones said, to reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths.

“That’s really what’s most important,” she said.

An exact release date has yet to be announced for over-the-counter Naloxone, but the maker of the drug said it’s likely to be later this summer.