Emergent BioSolutions recently made its Narcan naloxone nasal spray available for over-the-counter (OTC), nonprescription use starting this month.

The company’s announcement that supplies of Narcan Naloxone HCl Nasal Spray 4 mg are being sent to pharmacies nationwide came months after the Food and Drug Administration approved the product for OTC use. 

Emergent said in a press release that its suggested retail price for Narcan is $44.99 per carton, equivalent to around $22.50 per dose, but acknowledged that individual retailers will set the product’s price. Emergent also stated that it has not raised the price of Narcan since its launch in 2016 following prescription approval the year prior.

This is the first nonprescription version of naloxone approved to be used as a critical overdose reversal tool in the ongoing, multi-decade opioid and fentanyl crisis.

According to the most recently available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021 was the deadliest year on record for overdose deaths due to the compounded effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Expanding availability to online and in-store shelves, increasing awareness and education to reduce stigma, and calling on the public to be prepared, is additive to the current work Emergent does every single day to stem the tide of this public health threat,” Paul Williams, SVP of Emergent’s products business, said in a statement. “On the eve of International Overdose Awareness Day, we stand by our ongoing efforts with advocates, patients, customers and policy stakeholders to implement efforts that enhance naloxone distribution to all those in need.”

The company stated that of the 17 million doses of naloxone distributed throughout the country in 2021, more than 84% were through local health departments, harm reduction organizations and first responders, among other groups. 

Healthcare stakeholders are hopeful that the greater availability of the product will be able to stem the tide of overdoses and serve as a vital option in the arsenal when people are faced with a situation where every second counts.

“With the proliferation of fentanyl contamination in substances today, we strongly recommend every family and workplace have access to Naloxone. It will save lives. This move makes it more widely available, if not more accessible since price will continue to be a challenge for some,” said Dr. Adam D. Scioli, DO, DFAPA, FASAM, FAOAAM, corporate medical director and head of psychiatry at Caron Treatment Centers.