SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Narcan, a potentially life-saving drug will soon be available to everyone. It’s used to reverse opioid overdoses and it’s something EMS and some police carry with them.
In a few months, you can get your hands on this life-saving drug, too.
“Four minutes, your brain starts losing oxygen to the brain. After six minutes, it starts causing brain death,” said Captain Thomas Herndon, with Chatham Emergency Services.
Herndon added when someone overdoses and goes unconscious, it can damage their brain within minutes. He also said their breathing and heart rates slow down.
EMS workers may begin with CPR and then move to use Narcan to save the person’s life.
Until now, Narcan was either accessible only to emergency responders or through a pharmacy. Wednesday, the FDA approved the sale of Narcan without a prescription, hoping it’ll be on the shelves of pharmacies and supermarkets by the end of summer.
“If you have it on hand, you’re going to save that person’s life,” Herndon said. “Also with that, you know, be cautious.”
WSAV News 3 talked with Dr. Jay Goldstein, an assistant medical director at Memorial Health, who said making it easier to buy Narcan is going to be a game changer when it comes to saving overdose victims.
“So the opportunity to get those medications in and have the reversal is going to be significant,” Goldstein said. “And for the consumer, the ones that are actually doing the drugs, the opportunity not to overdose is going to be huge.”
At first, the drug won’t be cheap, costing an estimated $50 for two doses. Goldstein told WSAV he hopes the drug will get cheaper when it’s more readily available.
“As it becomes more available and potential opportunities for generics to come out. So that way, the cost will really significantly decrease and people have more of the opportunity to get it. And we can prevent those significant intoxication and overdoses and deaths.”
Although it could be life-saving, there is some worry that drug users could rely too much on Narcan. They also may take too many drugs for which Narcan won’t be strong enough. Doctors and EMS professionals say it isn’t a one-and-done drug — patients will still need to go to the nearest hospital for testing and evaluation.
WSAV talked more about the opioid epidemic in our special report “What Your Family Should Know About Opioids.” Visit this link to learn more.