FDA Approves Narcan Nasal Spray

Antidote for Heroin, Prescription Painkiller Overdose

Narcan Nasal Spray
Nasal Spray Used for Opioid Overdose. Adapt Pharma

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of an easy-to-use, nasal-spray version of a drug for saving lives of people who have overdosed on heroin or prescription painkillers.

Narcan, the nasal-spray form of naloxone, will not only be easier to administer, but will be significantly cheaper than previous versions of the drug currently on the market.

The less expensive option is good news for communities across the United States that have been equipping first responders and police with naloxone in response to an increase in overdose deaths caused by prescription painkillers and heroin.

Opioid-Related Overdoses a 'National Crisis'

An increase in addiction to prescription pain pills, which health officials have termed epidemic, has resulted in a corresponding increase in opioid overdose deaths.

A national crackdown on "pill mills" and the doctors who overprescribe painkillers produced a shortage of painkillers on the street and an increase in price. This resulted in many painkiller users switching to heroin, simply because it was cheaper and more available.

By 2013, officials reported more than 16,000 deaths linked to prescription opioids and almost 8,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. tied to heroin use.

New Product Is Significantly Cheaper

Now, not only will more communities be able to provide Narcan kits to first responders to be used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose, but more addicts and their family members will be able to access the overdose antidote.

See also: Opioid Overdose Resuscitation Tips.

Adapt Pharma, an Irish company that manufactures the new product, said that Narcan will be sold to government, educational and community organizations for $37.50 per dose. That is significantly lower than injection versions sold by Amphastar Pharmaceuticals and the pen type injector device known as Evzio marketed by Kaleo, Inc.

The older, injection type forms of naloxone typically sold from $75 ot $100 per dose and the pen-type injectors were even higher.

Narcan Simple, Easy-to-Use

"We want to have broad access across the U.S.," Seamus Mulligan, Adapt's founder and chief executive, told reporters. "That's the approach we're taking in terms of pricing and transparency."

In the past, first responders would use nozzles and other devices to convert the naloxone injections into a nasal spray. It worked, but was expensive and not very efficient, because it used a lot more of the liquid.

The new product will deliver a life-saving dose of the drug and use only a fraction of the liquid used in the old injections doses.

"It's ready to use, it's simple, it's just one push and you've delivered your therapeutic dose," Mulligan said.

Narcan nasal spray will be available at most pharmacy chain stores with a prescription from a healthcare provider. Some states, however, have passed laws making naloxone available without a prescription.

To find out if you need a prescription in your state for Narcan, call your local pharmacy.

How to Use Narcan

To help friends and family members of opioid abusers know what to do in case of a love one's overdose, the American Society of Anesthesiologists has published a guide to help identify and treat someone who has overdosed.

The Opioid Overdose Resuscitation card is free and a printable version is available online. Keeping the card nearby could help you save a life.

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