JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, is an opioid overdose reversal drug that can be used in case of emergencies. In late March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the sale of Narcan without a prescription.
The move by the FDA could easily result in Narcan being the first overdose-reversing drug to be sold over the counter.
Northeast Tennessee pharmacists and drug recovery advocators are in favor of Naloxone being available on the shelves.
Dottie Greene, Executive Director of Johnson City Recovery, said that too many people are dying from drug overdoses.
“At this point, I mean I can’t even count on all my fingers and toes how many people I know that have overdosed,” said Greene. “From the person experiencing homelessness in downtown, to a judge.”
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, 51 out of 95 counties had an increase in opioid overdose deaths from 2018-2019.
“It’s such a good thing, it’s just like wearing a seatbelt,” said Greene. “Wearing a seatbelt, it saves lives. Wwe might not like it, but it saves lives.”
Eric Carter, a pharmacist at Lingerfelt Drug Center in Elizabethton, said that fentanyl is so potent and widespread that everyone could be at risk of a drug overdose.
“On a dollar bill you see on the side of the road or on a sidewalk or if I had been using it and touched a doorknob,” said Carter. “It could be there, you could almost kind of think it more like the flu, that it can be anywhere.”
Drug Recovery advocates like Dottie Greene say now that Naloxone is easier to obtain, everyone should carry it around with them just in case.
“If we save that life, that person has the potential and the opportunity to rebuild their lives,” said Greene. “To become responsible, productive, compassionate members of our community.”
Naloxone is not sold over the counter in drug stores yet, but it is expected to hit the shelves towards the end of summer, according to Carter.