Opioid overdose is a real thing, and in certain parts of the world, North America being no exception is it in a state of crisis. What is important to know is this crisis is not only affecting those who abuse opioid drugs – recreational use as it may be referred to.
Opioid overdose is also happening among people who have been prescribed their use for medical purposes, and in some cases patients mistakenly take too much or forget they have taken the maximum dosage.
Another place that is seeing overdoses in this matter are where there has been some type of drug interaction. Perhaps a pharmacist wasn’t aware of existing medications, different doctors prescribing medications for one condition and another specialist prescribing another.
And, on the greater scale those who abuse drugs are at a heightened risk for overdose. Unfortunately, in these cases, many overdoses go unnoticed and often seeking medical attention is not an option, or one readily accessible.
We say all that to say this – this is an epidemic that needed readily accessible treatment to help prevent an overdose, or treat an overdose until proper medical attention can be received.
What Is NARCAN?
This is the first FDA approved nasal spray that was formulated as an emergency treatment for a known or suspected overdose. It works by counter-acting the life-threatening effects of an overdose involving opioids. Described on their website is that most accidental overdoses occur at home – so when NARCAN was first developed it was for use by first responders and/or emergency personnel. This also included friends, family and caregivers who live with, or spend time with the patient.
It is important to note that this nasal spray is not to replace medical attention. It Is used only in the interim until medical attention my a professional, occurs. Medical attention should still be sought out even if the person wakes up from the effects of an overdose because they can slip back into dangerous territory rather quickly.
The most dangerous situation when it comes to overdose of opioids is the depression the respiratory systems experiences. It is here, that people stop breathing and ultimately their heart can suffer cardiac arrest, and stop.
This project of making NARCAN available to anywhere other than hospitals, began in 2013. This was where NARCAN product development started in collaboration with the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
In 2014, the licencing agreement was obtained to secure global rights to develop and commercialize the nasal spray. In 2015, pharmacokinetic studies began as well as a human factor study. These studies addressed the absorption rates, metabolism rates, excretion and the ease of its use.
In May of 2015, the name NARCAN was acquired and the rolling submissions began for applications to the FDA and NDA. Later that year it was given a priority review to help expedite the process due to a growing demand for the product in and out of the front lines.
By late 2015, the FDA approved the nasal spray that was designed for community use. February of 2016, the first commercial launch occurred and by July Canada saw its first interim order of NARCAN nasal spray.
Finally, in October 2017, Health Canada has approved NARCAN nasal spray for non-prescription and community use in Canada.
This timeline, although spanning a few years is a huge breakthrough in the medical community in and out of the hospitals and doctors’ offices. It has enabled the people who need it, sometimes the most, receive the right treatment, safely where in previous instances it may have been too late.
NARCAN In The United States
There are several pharmacies that NARCAN is available for in-store purchases and there is a search area on their website to see if your state is included. If you, or someone you care for takes opioids at home, you can (and should) obtain NARCAN nasal spray to help protect you and your loved ones.
NARCAN was developed to be affordable and accessible, in fact 94% of people who are insured in the United States have coverage for this treatment already.
Directions For NARCAN Use
In case you suspect or know of an overdose, NARCAN is designed to be easy to use.
The first step is to peel back the back of the package. This will remove the device from the packaging. Now, you want to hold the device with your thumb on the bottom of the plunger and two (2) fingers on the nozzle.
Second step is you want to place the tip of the nozzle in either nostril until our fingers touch the base of the patients nose.
Lastly, you want to press down firmly on the plunger to release one dose into the patients nose.
There is a quick start guide available on the website to download. In addition to its use, there are also other resources available to help you identify an overdose, and how to proceed in case someone regains consciousness before medical help has arrived.
NARCAN although available on a wide spectrum, this is a serious responsibility and you want to ensure you are informed of all variables.
NARCAN side effects are available in length on the website, and we are confident that saving a life from an opioid overdose trumps any sweating, body aches or sneezing.