How long does Narcan Nasal Spray last?
Naloxone is a medication that can be immediately administered to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Narcan is the most popular brand name of the naloxone medication that has become a standard treatment for opioid overdose. They are often used and referred to interchangeably. On March 29, 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the medication Narcan, a 4mg naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray, for over-the-counter non-prescription use.
It is the first naloxone product that has been approved for usage without a prescription. Medical providers, patient advocates and community health groups, who have been long-time advocates for behavioral health reforms, see this as a welcome sign. Opioid death is one of the leading causes of accidental death in the U.S. This medication has become an important resource for the fight against the American opioid crisis. Narcan is currently available in pharmacies behind the counter or available with a prescription. However, this new policy will now expand access and availability to the life saving treatment.
Opioid Crisis in America
The opioid overdose crisis has been a major public health issue over the past decade. In 2021, there were an estimated 100,000 reported fatal opioid-related overdoses. According to the CDC, almost half of them occurred with another nearby person that could have helped prevent overdose death. Reports from the Reagan-Udall Foundation, in that same year, an estimated 17 million doses of naloxone were distributed nationwide.
Some contributing factors to the opioid crisis include an increase in the number of written prescription opioids and an increase in the potency of prescription opioids as well as illicit opioids. Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, is now the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18-49.
What is Narcan and how long does a Narcan nasal spray last in your system?
Naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray at 4mg, is a popular medication used to treat opioid overdose. Naloxone is most commonly known by the brand name Narcan. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. It works by binding with receptors that reverse and block the effects of opioids on the brain. To help stop the process of overdose, Narcan produces symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Symptoms can include body aches, weakness, fever and chills.
Narcan is the most effective when it is used as soon as signs of an overdose appear. Once administered, it can begin working as soon as two to three minutes. Narcan is a temporary treatment and the effects only last up to 90 minutes in the body. This makes getting help and obtaining medical treatment important once the medication has been dispensed.
Narcan only works on treating opioid-induced overdose. Popular opioids are heroin, morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, hydrocodone and codeine. The most common signs of opioid overdose include abnormal breathing patterns, pinpoint-sized pupils, unresponsive to sound and touch, bluish discoloration of the lips and skin.
Candidates for Narcan use include:
- Someone taking high doses of opioids for long-term pain management
- Someone receiving rotations of opioid medications
- Someone who is overdosing on opioids
Opioid overdose can happen when:
- A person takes an extra dose of medication
- A person purposefully misuses a prescription opioid
- A person uses opioids with other illicit drugs
- A person mixes opioids with other prescription medications
Narcan comes in two main forms of medication. An injectable naloxone liquid is drawn up from a vial and injected into the muscle, into a vein or under the skin. A naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray is a prefilled device that is sprayed into a person’s nostril containing only a single dosage. The Narcan 4mg nasal spray is the easiest method to administer and the option recently approved by the FDA for over-the-counter use.
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The FDA approves the nasal spray of Narcan 4mg for non-prescription use
With the new policy switching from prescription to over-the-counter, naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray 4mg can now be sold directly to consumers. The medication will be available in drug stores, convenience stores, grocery stores, gas stations and online. The approval of the Narcan medication is only permitted for the 4mg nasal spray. Other formulations and dosages of naloxone will remain as a prescription-only medication.
Stigma and costs were two major barriers for getting naloxone into the hands of people who needed it most. Before the approval for Narcan 4mg over the counter, it was only available at pharmacies behind the counter for anyone who was asking for it. The negative stigma behind opioid use and addiction made the medication unapproachable because it implied that a person was using opioids or was associated with someone who was using. The current average cost of Narcan can range anywhere from $50-$100. This creates a financial barrier for people with substance abuse disorders who do not have health insurance to help pay for the medication.
The FDA first approved the Narcan nasal spray in 2015. It was the first of its kind nasal spray that offered a reverse overdose medication of naloxone. When this new measure was brought up as a result of the rapid public health crisis involving opioid death, FDA committee members voted unanimously for the approval of marketing the medication without a prescription. This approval is in hopes to help improve access to naloxone, to increase the number of areas where Narcan is available, and to ultimately reduce opioid overdose and death.
Emergent BioSolutions, the manufacturer of Narcan, says the nasal spray is expected to be on shelves by the end of summer.
How to use the naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray 4mg
- Make sure the person is lying flat on their back.
- Hold the spray with your thumb on the bottom of the product plunger with your first and middle fingers on either side of the nozzle.
- Insert the tip of the nozzle into one nostril until your fingers on either side are against the bottom of the person’s nose. Don’t forget to support the person’s neck as you tilt their head back.
- Press the plunger firmly to release the naloxone medication.
- Once the medication has been fully dispensed, remove the spray nozzle from the nostril and turn the person on to their side into the recovery position
Reach out to Hotel California by the Sea
We specialize in treating addiction and other co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD. Our Admissions specialists are available to walk you through the best options for treating your addiction.
The Narcan 4mg nasal spray approved by the FDA for non-prescription use is an important harm reduction tool in helping to reverse an overdose and prevent opioid-related deaths. Health experts and groups continue to encourage other life-saving harm reduction practices such as education and advancing the development and accessibility of substance use disorder treatments and programs.
At Hotel California by the Sea, opioid use disorders can be treated through a variety of methods. Inpatient detox and residential treatments provide patients with around-the-clock care during a vulnerable state of well-being. IOP and PHP treatments include intensive therapies that target co-occurring mental health conditions that hinder the addiction recovery process. The prescription drug addiction treatment program at Hotel California by the Sea offers a comprehensive treatment plan that includes, medication management, targeted therapies and educational resources to help all patients achieve sobriety.