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Narcan Is Headed to Stores: What You Need to Know.

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The overdose-reversal drug should be more widely available, health experts have said. It arrives in many stores next week, no prescription necessary.

Narcan, the first opioid overdose reversal medication approved for over-the-counter purchase, is being shipped to drugstore and grocery chains nationwide, its manufacturer said Wednesday. Big-box outlets like Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Rite Aid said they expected Narcan to be available online and on many store shelves early next week.



Public health experts have long called for greater accessibility to the drug, which they describe as a critical weapon against rising overdose rates. There were more than 100,000 opioid overdose fatalities in each of the last two years in the United States.

Narcan is already a staple for emergency personnel and street outreach teams. Now scientists and health officials are hoping Narcan will eventually become commonplace in public libraries, subways, dorms, corner delis and street vending machines.

They also predict it may become a fixture in medicine cabinets, as more people realize that illicit party drugs like cocaine and counterfeit Xanax pills may be tainted with deadly fentanyl, an opioid.

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Narcan is a nasal-spray version of the drug naloxone, which blocks an opioid's effects on the brain, rescuing a person overcome by drugs like fentanyl, heroin or oxycodone.


An individual may be overdosing if his or her breathing is slowed or stopped, and the pupils of the eyes narrow to a pinpoint.

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Each carton contains two palm-size plunger devices, each filled with four milligrams of naloxone. The rescuer inserts the spray.

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Usually one dose is sufficient to reverse an overdose within two to three minutes. But addiction specialists have reported.

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The cost is likely to dictate the extent of Narcan's uptake. The manufacturer, Emergent BioSolutions, suggests $44.99 as the price.

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"People with some money and motivation will seek this product out, which is fantastic," said Brendan Saloner, an addiction.


But those who will need Narcan the most may not be able to afford it, he added, saying that this includes people.

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When Narcan was available only by prescription, public and private insurance readily covered it. But those plans typically.

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Some state Medicaid programs have already announced that they will cover Narcan when it becomes available over the counter..

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Retailers often put pricier products or those that are likely to be stolen behind a counter or in a locked case. But behavioral health experts say that customers may be reluctant to ask store workers for Narcan, fearing raised eyebrows and dismissive comments marks of the pervasive stigma surrounding drug use and addiction.

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Through a spokeswoman, Rite Aid said Narcan would be available at its pharmacy counter and in pain care aisles. Many stores, including CVS, will also have it by the front register. Rite Aid, Walgreens, Walmart and CVS also said that Narcan could be purchased next week through their online sites, offering greater privacy.

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