Adapt Pharma, the maker of the life-saving opioid overdose reversal medication Narcan nasal spray, has announced plans to bring the product to over-the-counter (OTC) status with a price point of less than $50. Narcan, which contains naloxone, can quickly restore breathing in a person experiencing an opioid overdose and has been credited with saving countless lives since its approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2015.
Currently, it is available by prescription only and can cost upwards of $150 per dose, depending on insurance coverage. With the rise of opioid overdose deaths in recent years, there has been increased demand for the medication and a push for it to become more widely accessible. Making Narcan nasal spray available OTC could increase access for individuals who do not have a prescription or insurance coverage, as well as for family and friends of those at risk for opioid overdose.
Adapt Pharma, which was acquired by Emergent BioSolutions in 2018, is working with the FDA to obtain approval for the OTC sale of Narcan. The company hopes to have the medication available for purchase without a prescription by early 2024.
Is this a step to better healthcare?
“We believe that making Narcan more widely available and affordable is an important step in addressing the opioid crisis,” said Doug White, the president of Emergent BioSolutions’ devices business unit. “We are committed to working with the FDA to make this a reality as soon as possible.”
Adapt Pharma has already taken steps to increase access to Narcan by offering discounted pricing to first responders and public health organizations. The company has also worked with pharmacies to increase access and education around the use of the medication.
While some have expressed concern about the potential for misuse of Narcan, proponents argue that the benefits of making the medication more widely available outweigh the risks. In addition to saving lives in cases of opioid overdose, Narcan nasal spray has also been used to treat respiratory depression caused by other drugs and in cases of accidental exposure to opioids, such as in young children who may find and ingest pills.
The move by Adapt Pharma to bring Narcan to OTC status at a lower price point could have significant impacts on the opioid crisis in the United States, which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in recent years. Increased access to Narcan nasal spray could help prevent overdose deaths and provide a lifeline to those struggling with opioid addiction.
As the process of obtaining OTC approval from the FDA can be lengthy and complex, it remains to be seen how quickly Narcan nasal spray will be available without a prescription. However, the commitment by Adapt Pharma and Emergent BioSolutions to increasing access to the medication is a positive step in the fight against opioid overdose deaths.