Jefferson County health leaders say newly approved OTC Narcan will help save lives, but could be costly

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 12:18 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Jefferson County health leaders distribute hundreds of overdose reversal medications, called Narcan, each year.

It used to be one of the only ways to access the life-saving spray in Alabama, but now, the FDA says you’ll be able to buy it at your local pharmacy.

More than 120 people have died from overdoses in Jefferson County so far this year, with nearly 500 people last year. Public health leaders tell WBRC that making Narcan over the counter could help save lives.

Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson said there used to be limitations on the medication where you had to be a health professional to get a hold of it, but soon anyone can buy it over the counter.

Wilson said this improves accessibility, and can help prevent hundreds of drug deaths, but there could still be people who can’t get it because they can’t afford it. The FDA said it will cost roughly $40 to $50 for two doses of the nasal spray, which Wilson said can add up if frequently purchased.

Wilson said they don’t know exactly how many pharmacies it will be in or where it will be, but he said if you get one, it is safe and easy to use.

“The nasal spray is really nice because it is easy to use,” Wilson said. “It is not as intimidating as having to draw up the medicine and the needle and inject it, so that is one of the really nice things about the nasal spray, it’s very easy to use. It’s also extremely safe, so if you give it to somebody and it turns out they didn’t have an overdose, there’s no harm done.”

They will still be giving out free Narcan through the health department, but Wilson said once more medications get FDA approval, we will likely see the cost of the nasal spray go down.

Get news alerts in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store or subscribe to our email newsletter here.