Texas Congressman Wants Naloxone Available Over-the-Counter

By Beenthere2Hippie · Apr 24, 2015 · ·
  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    As heroin deaths continue to spike across the U.S., more and more states are allowing for greater use of naloxone, or Narcan, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. More first responders and family members of addicts now have access to the drug. But Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) thinks the federal government should do more.

    During the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing on the opioid epidemic Thursday morning, Burgess said the Food and Drug Administration should allow the life-saving medication to be sold over the counter like Advil or Nicorette. In an interview after the hearing, he explained that naloxone is still too difficult to access.

    “Right now, it’s hard to get,” Burgess told The Huffington Post. “If it were available at a 24-hour pharmacy, not saying it could save every life at risk, it could save some. The downside of having it available is what?”

    The hearing’s panelists of doctors and academics didn’t balk at Burgess’ suggestion. Dr. Marvin Seppala, the chief medical officer at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, said he’d support the move. “We should have over-the-counter naloxone,” he told Burgess during the hearing. “It’s a very innocuous drug.”

    Naloxone, which can be administered by needle or nasal spray, blocks the effects of heroin or other opioids. If administered in time, it can send an overdose victim into immediate withdrawal. It is both lifesaving and the opposite of a pleasant experience.

    Advocates see the medication as a vital harm reduction tool in battling the opioid epidemic. Kentucky, which has one of the worst heroin problems in the United States, recently passed legislation that allows for wider distribution of naloxone.

    Burgess, who practiced medicine for decades as an OB-GYN, said that he’s asked the FDA why naloxone can’t be sold over the counter at pharmacies. He said he has yet to receive an definitive answer, only that officials would look into the matter. “I don’t know how much looking it requires,” he said. “It’s a medicine for which the abuse potential is extremely low… It is very useful in someone suffering the effects of an opiate overdose.”

    Access to naloxone is currently limited due to its high cost and the slow pace of state legislation clearing the way for paramedics and police officers to carry the drug. At an FDA hearing three years ago, parents of addicts made the same request as Burgess to no avail.

    Eric Pahon, a spokesperson with the FDA, told HuffPost that a naloxone manufacturer would have to apply to sell the drug without a prescription before it would consider Burgess’ suggestion.

    “The FDA reviews information a sponsor chooses to submit,” Pahon explained via email. “In the case of FDA-approved naloxone products, the manufacturers applied for approval as a prescription drug. If any manufacturer chooses to seek approval of a naloxone product as an OTC drug, we would review the information.”

    Pahon added that the FDA would “continue to work with interested manufacturers and developers to further explore the best uses of naloxone to prevent opioid overdose deaths.”

    By Jason Turkis - The Huffington Post/April 23, 2015
    Photo: harmeducation.org
    Newshawk Crew

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    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. Alien Sex Fiend
    I feel that most heroin addicts won't spend money on naloxone. Here if you want free needles you will have to take naxolone. Many addicts inject alone in order not to share; will they have enough time to inject Narcan when ther is so much fentanyl-spiked heroin around these days?
  2. babalooj
    It doesnt matter ASF, if most junkies won't care to spend money on it, this junkie here would buy it, and i know a couple others that would too. As stated in the article, it is not that it would save everybody, but the point is that it would save some that otherwise wouldn't have had the chance
  3. TheBigBadWolf
    I feel that all Junkies I have talked about on this topic - a lot -would love to have a bottle of tha stuff on them. In my circle of acquaintances nearly everybody has the experience to either themselves or a friend of them having an opioid overdose.'

    One person I know has taken the dangerous way of injecting their mate with a dissolved buprenorphine tab. It worked, but the paramedics weren't happy with the patient having buprenorphine in their system, but the agreed that it was the best idea at hand and also remarked that they don't understand how nobody had the idea to provide opioid users with naloxone.

    When you have seen someone getting bluish-gray and stopping to breathe and then pumped on them for endless eight minutes til the ambulance finally arrived with a doc who - did wat as first means ? - injected naloxone and guy came back and cursed about being in withdrawal and you felt the relaxation inside when you know guy has survived, you'd be happy to have naloxone on you for the probable next time.
    And yes, I'd even buy it.

    Too many people I knew have died cos people didnt know what to do with CPR and shit - It couldn't only save lives, it could also help others not to feel as you feel when you see your mate dying.'

    Reasonable thing to ask for. 'Better of course it were if one would get it for free in needle exchanges, Pharmacies need not be involved. Except for 3rd world states like Texas where there are no needle exchanges, (or do they meanwhilst have any? I'd be more than happy to be corrected.)

  4. Wanderer
    Silly question, but why not follow the Swiss?

    The Swiss have legalized heroin and seen remarkable results. Heroin users must visit a physician for a checkup (preventative medicine and potential intervention for other problems, bit addiction, psychological and physical). They then receive prescription, pharmaceutical grade heroin. After that they have safe places for injection with staff trained on how to inject, monitor patients in the event of emergency.

    Some benefits have been:

    • Overall reduction in healthcare costs
    • Reduction in overall heroin use and recruitment
    • Reduction in crime
    • Reduction in medical waste in public places
    • Reduction in AIDS, HepB, HepC and other blood borne diseases
    That seems to be a success story overall.

    Be responsible...
  5. TheBigBadWolf
    I found a remarkable statement of the German Representative for Drugs Of the Federal Government, from July,3,2014 in a letter to the Bundesärztekammer (Federal Association of Practitioners):
    "In my view the administration of naloxone in cases of emergency through drugs by trained laymen is another additional option of action which can save lives of those addicted to drugs. Therefore this therapy option should (...) in the frame of help to survival for opioid dependent patients, be much more taken into consideration.(...)"

    To me this is sounding like something is beginning in Germany which other nations/states should take notice of.

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