Top health officials urge community members to carry Narcan as access increases nationwide

For the first time ever, you can buy the Narcan nasal spray over-the-counter at major grocery stores and pharmacies across the country.

The nasal spray quickly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

The nation’s top health and drug control officials are calling community members to carry Narcan no matter where they live or work. They believe everyone can help save a life.

They’re working with community activists like Rosalind Pichardo, who is the founder of Operation Save Our City. She said she has reversed nearly 2,100 overdoses over the last few years by using Narcan. She remembers those lives in a small black book.

“6/27/2019. A male in his twenties. 2:45pm. I gave him two Narcans,” said Pichardo.

On Friday, she showed top health officials and federal workers how to do the same during a demonstration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) headquarters.

Right now, the Narcan nasal spray is available without a prescription at major retailers like CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Walmart.

“Until this week, it was nearly impossible for someone to easily have access to this to help save a life,” said Secretary Xavier Becerra at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Each box of Narcan is roughly $45 with two doses of the medication inside. But many advocates believe that’s still too expensive.

“A $44.99 price tag is still out of reach for many Americans who need access to the lifesaving medication. We need to start working with the companies to bring that price down as much as possible,” said Ryan Hampton, executive director at Mobilized Recovery.

White House officials say they’re working to address this issue.

“We’re continuing to work with each of the manufacturers to make sure that these lifesaving and critical medications are accessible, affordable and where they can be administered,” said Dr. Rahual Gupta, White House Drug Czar.

The Biden administration says it has distributed $50 million to public health departments to buy naloxone. Dr. Gupta said less expensive naloxone products will be available next year.

“Make sure that when someone is overdosing across America their zip code doesn’t get to define whether they live or die,” said Gupta.

Officials are encouraging people to have Narcan at their workplaces. This includes even at HHS where staff say they have kits around the building.