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We may be one step closer to over-the-counter opioid antidotes

Too many opioid overdose fatalities are occurring every day across Georgia. Opioids are controlled substances, but addiction can override all other senses and users will sometimes resort to illegal means to obtain opioids.

Naloxone — often referred to by its brand name Narcan — is used as an antidote when someone overdoses on opioid drugs with lifesaving efficacy. Naloxone comes in several applications and has saved many lives, but it can only be purchased from a pharmacist and is generally administered by first responders and hospitals.

However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may make at least one naloxone product more accessible to the general public as soon as this year.

Naloxone nasal spray

One manufacturer of naloxone nasal spray wants to make its product available over-the-counter. The spray does not require medical training to administer, making it easier and safer for the general public to use.

The FDA granted the manufacturer’s application priority review and has shown to be supportive of efforts to improve public access to opioid overdose antidotes.

However, some researchers suggest that easy accessibility to an antidote may make people more apt to use opioids, knowing they do not have to go to the pharmacy or hospital if they overdose.

Georgia law

Currently, under Georgia law, you do not need a prescription to purchase naloxone, but it can only be purchased directly from a pharmacist. It cannot be sold over-the-counter. Also, not all pharmacies stock naloxone citing legal vagueness in its status as a prescription drug that could lead to conflicts of interest.

So, while access to naloxone in Georgia is available to all without a prescription, the fact that you still have to go to the pharmacy counter to purchase it may dissuade some people from obtaining the drug that could save their life or the life of someone they love. Whether state or federal prescription drug laws and regulations on this topic change remains to be seen.