By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square
Naloxone, the emergency treatment that’s proven to reverse opioid overdoses and fentanyl poisoning if administered quickly enough, is available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
It’s accessible for free and low cost online, through a range of community organizations, and through pharmacies with and without a prescription and with or without insurance.
With fentanyl-laced drugs pouring through the southern border, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has issued a new public safety alert and several governors and attorneys general have issued warnings. But after reporting on a toddler nearly dying from fentanyl poisoning, The Center Square received numerous requests from readers about where and how to obtain Naloxone.
Nationwide, individuals and organizations can access the life-saving drug through nextdistro.org/naloxone, the first statewide online and mail-based Naloxone distribution project in the country. The online mail-based harm reduction service was created “to reduce opioid overdose death, prevent injection-related disease transmission, and improve the lives of people who use drugs.”
Naloxone, and NARCAN, the brand nasal spray, can also be purchased at Naloxoneexchange.com for as low as $59, according to the site. It requires users to enter a physician’s name and NPI#.
All state health departments have information about Naloxone training programs and resources to acquire the drug, including free access. Several states and cities have rolled out NARCAN vending machines, the most extensive one is through Philadelphia’s public library system.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have “access laws or alternate arrangements in place that allow persons to obtain naloxone from a pharmacist without an individualized, in-person prescription,” Narcan.com reports. The majority of states and the District of Columbia have Naloxone standing orders, which allow adults to purchase the drug from a licensed pharmacy without a prescription, Rehabs.orgexplains. The majority of states have also authorized third-party prescriptions, meaning pharmacists and doctors can prescribe and dispense Naloxone.
GoodRX Health provides information about where and how to obtain Naloxone for free or at a reduced cost at pharmacies by zip code. It also has a mobile app to help consumers locate the best prices and comparison shop.
Having Naloxone on hand is “a good precaution,” the discount prescription drug website says, similar to having a fire extinguisher. You hope you won’t have to use it but if you do, having one on hand could save your life or someone else’s, it says.
Good RX Care also provides a prescription service online for individuals between the ages of 18 and 65 who live where Naloxone isn’t available through community-based distribution programs, which primarily assist drug users. The National Harm Reduction Coalition has published a map identifying where the programs are located nationwide.
“I would love to see everyone carry naloxone, Narcan, because you never know when you’re going to need it,” Dr. Mark Calarco says in an informational video produced by American Addiction Centers. In it, he explains how to identify if someone has had an overdose and shows how to administer the NARCAN nasal spray.
Most states have also passed Good Samaritan Laws, which vary widely. They generally grant immunity from lawsuits to those who prescribe Naloxone and who administer it to save someone they believe is overdosing, among other measures, according to an analysis by the Legislative Analysis and Public Policy Association.
Naloxone has proven to successfully reverse the effects of opioids and prevent someone who’s overdosed from dying by restoring their breathing, the National Institutes of Health reports. Signs of an overdose, according to NIH, include unconsciousness, small pupils, slow or shallow breathing, vomiting, inability to speak, faint heartbeat, limp arms and legs, pale skin, purple lips and fingernails.
On Tuesday, Emergent BioSolutions, which was first authorized to sell NARCAN Nasal Spray in 2015, announced the FDA had fast-tracked its application to sell the drug over the counter.
Greater access to Naloxone, law enforcement officers have told The Center Square, has the potential to save countless lives. It’s important to note that while Naloxone is successfully used in emergencies, it doesn’t replace emergency medical care, health officials warn. Emergency medical treatment is recommended immediately after receiving treatment.
Naloxone has been effective in treating fentanyl poisoning. The highly addictive synthetic opioid is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.
Fentanyl poisoning is the leading cause of death among Americans between the ages of 18 and 45 years old, according to the CDC.
“Fentanyl remains the deadliest drug threat facing this country,” the DEA said in its latest public safety alert. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott argues President Joe Biden’s open border policies are fueling the fentanyl crisis. The precursors, which are made in China, are shipped to Mexico where cartels and their operatives manufacture illicit fentanyl. They then bring it into the U.S. through the southern border and distribute it nationwide.
Two milligrams, roughly the weight of a mosquito, and small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil, is considered a potentially lethal dose.
Since last March, Texas law enforcement officers alone have seized more than 352 million lethal doses, enough to kill everyone in the U.S.