‘A great step:’ Health Department encouraged by FDA approval of over-the-counter Narcan

Published 12:01 am Friday, March 31, 2023

SALISBURY- Naloxone, a medication used to reverse opioid overdoses, was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday to be sold over-the-counter without a prescription and could be available at local pharmacies sometime this summer, according to the company that manufacturers the drug.

Alyssa Harris — Submitted photo

Alyssa Harris, the director of the Rowan County Public Health Department, said expanding access to Naloxone, which is sold under the brand name Narcan, “is a great step to increase the availability in our community.” The medication is a nasal spray that comes in a package of two 4-milligram doses, in case the person overdosing does not respond to the first dose.

Harris pointed out that much of the population of Rowan County lives in rural areas, so having Narcan available over the counter at pharmacies will make it easier to get for people in those areas. Currently, residents can also go to the health department and pick up Narcan for free. The department also distributes it to all first responders in the community.

In 2021, the county had 502 community overdose reversals, or 353 per 100,000 people, which is “magnitudes” higher than the North Carolina average of 39.6 per 100,000, Harris said.

“We cannot help someone who has died from overdose. We need our citizens to be alive to get them help and this is a key way to do that. We also need citizens to feel more confident in using this medication during an emergency situation,” Harris said.

In the upcoming months, the health department will be offering community training sessions for those interested in learning how to use naloxone and answer any questions residents might have. But anyone can stop by and ask for the drug at no cost. The department has a standing order that allows them to distribute for free and provide training on how to use.

Harris said she encourages anyone with questions to call the department’s HOPE Team at 704-216-8827. The team provides supportive outreach to individuals who use opioids and/or are at high risk of an opioid overdose.