Naloxone - OTC
Naloxone is finally available in the US without a prescription but much more is needed to improve health outcomes among people with opioid use disorder (PWOUD).
1. Reclassification as an over-the-counter (OTC) med will increase access. Think first aid kits, vending machines, supermarkets, convenience stores, schools and public spaces.
2. Those at risk do not have to fear experiencing the scrutiny or judgement of others by requesting, and filling a prescription. Being judged by others shouldn't be a concern when a life saving medication is needed.
3. The increased availability may bring the price down. A recently released naloxone product is priced just under $50. This is still out of reach for many. When medications move from prescription to OTC they often are no longer covered by insurance. This creates new barriers for those in need.
4. While naloxone is essential to reverse opioid induced respiratory depression in overdoses, the problem of addiction is much larger. Treatment of people with opioid use disorders (PWOUD) necessitates access to robust medical and mental health resources along with social support.
Moving naloxone from prescription to OTC is overall a public health win. However, much more is necessary to ensure equitable access and address the complexity of addiction.