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Narcan Will Soon Be Over-the-Counter. Here is What You Need to Know. By Our Student Pharmacist, Jadelyn Cheng.

In the upcoming weeks, Narcan (naloxone 4 mg) nasal spray will hit the shelves of many grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations for purchase directly over-the-counter without needing a prescription.

To help you understand this rescue drug better, we’ve compiled some frequently asked questions and their answers.

Graphic 1

What is Narcan? Is it different from naloxone?

Narcan is a brand name for a nasal spray that contains naloxone as its active ingredient. It is a lifesaving medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It is an opioid antagonist, which means it binds to the same receptors opioids bind to in the brain, blocking the opioids and reversing their effects. It can rapidly restore consciousness in someone who has overdosed on an opioid.

Currently, Narcan is the only version of the naloxone nasal spray that is over-the-counter. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved a second over-the-counter naloxone nasal spray called ReVive. People can expect this alternative to be more broadly available at a lower cost in 2024.

Why should I carry Narcan?

Opioid overdoses can happen anywhere, anytime, and to anyone. Keeping Narcan in your emergency kit or carrying it on the go can save lives. 

Can Narcan be used for all types of opioids?

Yes! Narcan is effective for reversing prescription painkillers prescribed for chronic pain, injuries, and surgeries, as well as opioids commonly found in illicit or street drug use.

Common opioids include:

  • morphine
  • codeine
  • OxyContin (oxycodone)
  • Vicodin (hydrocodone)
  • tramadol
  • buprenorphine
  • heroin
  • fentanyl

Who can be given Narcan?

Narcan is safe to be administered to anyone of all ages, from infants to teens to older adults. This can be especially useful for children and teens who unintentionally ingest a prescription opioid.

What are the signs and symptoms of an overdose?

Here are the signs and symptoms to look out for: Graphic 2

Act fast! If someone displays symptoms or you suspect an overdose, use Narcan.

How do I use Narcan? What do I do after?

If you suspect an overdose, act quickly. Look for signs like difficulty breathing or unresponsiveness. If the person does not respond to gentle shaking, follow the steps: LAY – SPRAY – STAY.

Graphic 3
You cannot overdose on Narcan, so it is safe to continue administering new doses every 2-3 minutes until emergency services arrive.

Can I give myself Narcan?

You cannot administer Narcan to yourself. This is why your friends and family must know that you carry Narcan, where you store it, and how to use it.

Can I use Narcan if I’m unsure someone is experiencing an overdose?

Narcan has no effect if opioids are absent in a person’s body. If it is given to someone who is not overdosing on an opioid, it will not harm them.

Are there any side effects or risks associated with Narcan?

After using Narcan, some people may experience side effects such as shaking, sweating, nausea, or irritability. This is commonly referred to as acute withdrawal syndrome.

Where can I buy Narcan?

The current retail price of Narcan is approximately $44.99. The manufacturer of Narcan currently has a search tool to find Narcan online or at a store near you: https://narcan.com/buy 

Can I get Narcan for free or at a reduced cost?

NaloxoneOhio is an initiative to provide Ohioans with a database of providers and sites that offer free Narcan. Access that here: https://naloxone.ohio.gov/get-naloxone/individual

For More Information, Visit:

CDC. (2020). Save a Life from Prescription Opioid Overdose. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. https://www.cdc.gov/rxawareness/prevent/index.html


Bennett, A. S., Freeman, R., Des Jarlais, D. C., & Aronson, I. D. (2020). Reasons People Who Use Opioids Do Not Accept or Carry No-Cost Naloxone: Qualitative Interview Study. JMIR formative research, 4(12), e22411.https://doi.org/10.2196/22411

Carpenter, J., Murray, B. P., Atti, S., Moran, T. P., Yancey, A., & Morgan, B. (2020). Naloxone Dosing After Opioid Overdose in the Era of Illicitly Manufactured Fentanyl. Journal of medical toxicology : official journal of the American College of Medical Toxicology, 16(1), 41–48. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13181-019-00735-w


  1. https://narcan.com/
  2. https://narcan.com/opioid-education
  3. https://narcan.com/resources

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