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Naloxone will be available over the counter at stores nationwide

Posted at 6:45 PM, Sep 05, 2023

PUEBLO — Naloxone will be available over the counter at stores nationwide starting this week. Narcan is the common brand name of the drug Naloxone. Narcan can quickly reverse an opioid overdose which includes fentanyl and other opioids such as heroin and prescription painkillers.

In March, the FDA approved the sale of Naloxone nasal spray to be sold over the counter without a prescription.

People in Colorado have been able to buy Narcan over the counter in some pharmacies since 2015. The state's chief medical officer issued a standing order, which removed the need for a prescription. People could go to a participating pharmacy and ask to purchase Naloxone. Because of the standing order, they did not need a prescription, but not every pharmacy carried Narcan.

With the FDA’s approval, Narcan can now be sold at convenience stores, grocery stores, and gas stations, as well as online.

The nasal spray is when someone's heart stops due to an opioid overdose.

Access Point is a part of the Colorado Health Network. They focus on harm reduction services, one of them being overdose prevention. People can go up to Access Point’s window and get products, anonymously and free of cost, such as a box of Narcan.

Christine Charron is the Prevention Services Manager for Access Point in Pueblo. Charron said the nasal spray is easy to use.

“You just want to make sure you get it into a personal nostril, all the way inserted until your fingers touch the bottom of the nostrils. Then just push up on the plunger to express the full dose and it squirts out real quick,” Charron said. "Then it gets absorbed through the mucous membranes, and will go to work at blocking the opioid receptors, which will allow, hopefully for that person's respiration to get back up where they're not gonna have any injuries or death," Charron said.

Charron said the standing order was good for Colorado and this new FDA measure will make Narcan even more accessible to people.

“We have a standing order with pharmacies, those are not available 24/7, but gas stations are open a lot of the time,” Charron said.

People will be able to buy Narcan at gas stations which are open later and more often than pharmacies. Access Point gives out anywhere from one to two thousand doses of Naloxone every month.

“I do believe it will make a difference. We are only open three days a week, pharmacies are not open all the time either, just having those open with no time restrictions is going to have a huge benefit,” Charron said.

Charron said it's important to have Narcan and overdose prevention materials in multiple places so more people can use them and become educated about opioids.

“Maybe someone who does not feel comfortable coming to a harm reduction program but wants to have it for themselves in case they happen upon a community member who needs it. Or in case they want to be sure to have it just in case someone in their life they know needs it," Charron said.

The Connect Effect Campaign is a new educational resource where parents and kids can learn about misusing prescription pills and the dangers surrounding fentanyl. The campaign was launched at the beginning of September through the state Department of Human Services and the attorney general to improve the health of Colorado youth.

"Prevention from the standpoint of really really teaching kids to have the tools and the autonomy to make decisions about how they are going to navigate the substance use world is the most effective prevention from what we've seen," Charron said.

The campaign's website has interactive educational pamphlets showing what fake prescription pills look like, fentanyl pills, the signs of an opioid overdose, and how people can use Naloxone.

"A child who may get access to this campaign from school or another means you never know if their parents were, and enter uncle, or another friend of theirs who's their age might benefit from that information they might have when it matters," Charron said.

A box of Narcan can last for a few years. Narcan will be sold for $44.99 per box at Walgreens. Each Narcan box comes with two doses. People can pick a free box of Narcan at the Access Point office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in Pueblo.
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