PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The first-ever opioid overdose antidote will soon be available for purchase without a prescription.
Naloxone, a nasal spray designed to reverse opioid overdoses, is expected to hit store shelves early next month.
Christina Procaccianti, director of Green Line Apothecary, said naloxone is not only easy to use, but having it on hand could also save someone’s life.
“There are really handy step-by-step instructions, so you want to check for a pulse and then you simply open the nasal spray and spray it right into the patient’s nostril,” Procaccianti explained. “If there’s no response in three to five minutes, it is recommended that you spray the second dose in the other nostril.”
The Rhode Island Department of Health reported 434 accidental drug overdose deaths last year alone. But the average number of overdose calls is more than double that, according to Providence Fire Department EMS Chief Zach Kenyon.
“We are probably around 1,000 [overdoses] a year in the city,” he said.
Kenyon said more than half of those overdoses happened in public places, which is why he is urging everyone to carry naloxone with them.
“It really is an astounding drug,” he explained. “You can have somebody who’s not breathing, and within seconds, they’ll be up and talking to you.”
Naloxone will be available for purchase over-the-counter for $44.99. The box will come with two nasal sprays and instructions on how to use them.
But some are concerned with the cost of the life-saving drug, including Anita Jacobson, who is a clinical professor at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Pharmacy and the director of the Community First Responder Program.
“I don’t want that $40 to put [someone] in a situation where they’re deciding between groceries and other necessities,” she said.
Jacobson hopes insurance companies will eventually cover the cost of the drug. She also pointed out that there are a number of ways to obtain naloxone at no cost.
Despite the price tag, Jacobson said the move will make the the drug more accessible.
“It will be just another mechanism of getting naloxone in the community,” Jacobson said.
“I hope that people will start to view it just like they would an EpiPen … as a tool to keep on hand in the event of an emergency,” Procaccianti added.
Procaccianti tells 12 News naloxone is just as safe for the person administering it as it is for the patient.
The state’s Good Samaritan Law also protects the person who administers naloxone or seeks medical help for someone experiencing an overdose. The person who is overdosing is protected under the law as well.
“You can’t go wrong,” Kenyon said. “You’re not going to hurt anybody, and you can’t get in trouble. If you have and you think someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911, give them Narcan and hopefully you will save somebody’s life and change them forever.”