NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Narcan, the life-saving opioid overdose drug, could be available in big box shops, supermarkets, convenience shops, and schools and as soon as this summer.
On Wednesday, FDA advisors unanimously recommended that the brand of Naloxone be sold over the counter.
Narcan is a nasal spray that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose within minutes. It's become common for first responders and healthcare workers to administer the drug in emergency situations, but it isn't widely available for everyone else.
Public health experts believe putting it on store shelves could save countless lives.
"Someone can take one dose accidentally and die, so we really need to make sure we have Narcan readily available to save lives in Texas and across the country," said Dr. Teresa Wagner, a professor at UNT Health Science Center and the interim director of SaferCare Texas.
SaferCare Texas is holding a Narcan training event for students and community members on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
"When we see the rates at which deaths in Texas and across the country are rising from opioid overdose, it can definitely be that frontline first response that can keep someone stable while we wait for help," Dr. Wagner said.
Callie Crow wishes her son Drew had been given Naloxone. He died of an opioid overdose in 2020 at 27-years-old.
"He was a really smart, sweet guy and was currently a student at the University of North Texas," Crow said. "He'd also been addicted to opioids for about 10 years, so it was a really long struggle for him. It was a very tortuous situation."
Crow has now dedicated her life to saving others like him.
Through Drew's 27 Chains, the former paramedic trains first responders on how to recognize the signs of overdose and how to quickly administer Naloxone.
"It's so important because every second matters in those situations," she said.
Just last night, a first responder she trained was able to save someone's life by administering it.
"It's not in any way enabling," Crow said. "This is for emergency situations."
The federal panel of addiction experts determined Narcan is safe and effective, even in infants.
According to multiple studies, making it more widely available doesn't seem to encourage increased drug use.
"Because much of it is accidental, I don't think we need to worry in that direction," Dr. Wagner said. "I think we should focus really on the life-saving properties Narcan can potentially have."
The FDA is expected to make its final decision by the end of March.
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