HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Narcan, the drug used to help stop an opioid overdose, will be available without a prescription in certain drug stores nationwide beginning Thursday.
It comes amid an increase in overdose deaths. Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health shows the Commonwealth experienced roughly 5,000 opioid overdoses in the past year.
“We’re definitely an epicenter here,” Dr. Adam Barnathan, an Addiction Specialist at UPMC said. “Over the past five years, we’ve noticed a sharp increase in our area.”
Narcan will be available over-the-counter at stores like CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Walmart. It comes five months after the United States Food and Drug Association ruled it can be distributed without a prescription.
“The beautiful thing about Narcan is if you give it to someone who didn’t overdose, there’s really no side effects, there’s no harm,” Barnathan said.
A two-dose box will be sold for $45.99, prompting criticism that the live-saving treatment could be too costly for some.
“For many people, especially the people that are using Naloxone [Narcan] the most, having to buy it will still be cost prohibitive,” Alice Bell of Prevention Point Pittsburgh said. “If somebody’s using it that regularly, then 45 bucks for two doses is a lot of money.”
Prevention Point Pittsburgh distributes free Narcan. Pennsylvania does as well, but only by mail.