Story by Patricio Robayo
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given approval for an over-the-counter Narcan nasal spray, which does not require a prescription.
Narcan is a medication commonly used to treat opioid overdose by reversing its effects.
“Anything that makes Narcan more available in the county is a plus. This is a bridge to get, hopefully, to get people to get the help that they need,” said Sullivan County Deputy Commissioner of Health and Human Services and Co-Chairs of the Sullivan County Drug Task Force, Wendy Brown.
Sullivan County has the highest opioid death rate per capita outside of New York City, according to New York Public Health, and is currently applying to be a High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). This move aims to provide additional resources to the Sullivan County Drug Task Force in its fight against the opioid epidemic.
Currently, there is no timeline for when the medication will be over the counter and how much it will cost.
FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf says the increased number of locations where Narcan is available helps reduce opioid overdose deaths throughout the country.
“We encourage the manufacturer to make accessibility to the product a priority by making it available as soon as possible and at an affordable price,” said Califf.
According to Samir Shah, owner, and pharmacist at K&K Pharmacy in Liberty, while a prescription is currently required to obtain Narcan, certain pharmacies offer coverage for co-pay expenses under a New York State program.
“Any insurance, and if there’s any co-pay, New York State has a program called N-Cap, and they’ll pay up to $40 for a Narcan kit. Most of the time, it would be without any co-pay or anything,” said Shah.
Shah says that customers can now walk into his pharmacy without a prescription and obtain Narcan through New York State’s Standing Order program. This program permits pharmacists to prescribe Narcan to anyone who asks for it.
“They can walk into a pharmacy and just request it. And a pharmacist can write a prescription under their own name as a prescriber and dispense a prescription for Narcan,” explained Shah.
Shah added, “Actually, it’d be better than over the counter because, over the counter, they’d have to pay out of pocket. So that could be an impediment. This way, they just walk in, just walk to the pharmacy and get one free.”