(KRON) — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Narcan for over-the-counter back in March. Shipments are currently on their way to pharmacies and stores.
There seems to be some confusion in California where many thought that over-the-counter Narcan was already available without a prescription. KRON4 worked to get some answers, and this is what we found.
Harm reduction specialists at the Overdose Awareness Event on Thursday were under the impression that Narcan was able to be purchased at any pharmacy in California without a prescription. If you to a pharmacy, you’ll find out that’s not the case.
KRON4 first went to a Walgreens in San Francisco to try to get Narcan. “So you need a prescription to get it over the counter here?” The pharmacy replied, “Yes.”
The case was the same at a Safeway Pharmacy.
Director of Overdose Prevention Policy and Strategy for the National Harm Reduction Coalition Mary Silla explained how states like California started making Narcan available at pharmacies through what’s called standing orders.
“It basically said we know it’s a prescription, but we’re going to have somebody at the state level it’s broadscale subscribed for anyone who wants to go to a pharmacist and buy it,” Silla said.
And it’s not cheap depending on your insurance. One Walgreens pharmacist says Narcan costs around $100.
According to Silla, that cost should come down to around $40 with insurance. Over-the-counter Narcan approved by the FDA arrives at pharmacies and stores as early as next week.
“I have heard within the past couple of days that the first Narcan product was being shipped to outlets to be sold over the counter,” Silla said.
That was confirmed at a CVS pharmacy in San Francisco but with a higher price point.
“Supposed to be over the counter next week. Supposed to be 70-something dollars,” said on CVS pharmacist.
Silla says that may work for someone who can afford it but worries that a supply that costs money will take away from those who are more prone to drug overdoses.
“Really we want to make sure we are not limiting the supply of Naloxone to people who use drugs people who are unhoused, people who lack access to mental health services,” Silla said.
A bill that would require insurance companies to cover the full cost of Narcan is one step closer to becoming law. The bill authored by Assemblymember Liz Ortega passed in senate appropriations today, it now needs to pass a vote on the California Senate and Assembly floors.
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