National Council for Mental Wellbeing Urges FDA to Make Narcan Available Over the Counter

Washington, D.C. (March 10, 2023) — National Council for Mental Wellbeing President and CEO Chuck Ingoglia issued the following statement in response to the impending Food and Drug Administration decision over whether to make Narcan available over the counter. The FDA is scheduled to decide by March 29 whether to make a 4-milligram nasal spray made by Emergent Biosolutions available over the counter.

“As communities continue to cope with a historic number of overdose deaths, we urge the Food and Drug Administration to follow the advice of its Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee and Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee, which unanimously voted in a joint meeting on February 15 to recommend that Emergent Biosolutions’ Narcan become the first opioid overdose reversal drug to be made available over the counter.

“No single approach will end overdose deaths, but making Narcan easy to obtain and widely available likely would save countless lives annually. Making Narcan easy to obtain also would signal our willingness to take meaningful steps to help those with a substance use challenge.

“While Narcan provides a practical solution to a pervasive problem, making it available over the counter also would demonstrate our humanity. Narcan represents a second chance. By giving people a second chance, we also give them an opportunity to enter treatment, if they so choose. You can’t recover if you’re dead, and we shouldn’t turn our backs on those who may choose a pathway to recovery that includes treatment.

“It’s also important to note that fentanyl has poisoned the drug supply, and people often have no idea when a drug is laced with fentanyl. They shouldn’t pay with their lives.

“If the FDA approves the plan to make Narcan available over the counter, we hope the agency also ensures the drug is affordable. We won’t accomplish much if people can’t afford to buy Narcan.

“Making Narcan available over the counter represents a decisive, practical and humane approach to help people and flatten the curve of overdose deaths.”

About The National Council

Founded in 1969, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing is a membership organization that drives policy and social change on behalf of over 3,400 mental health and substance use treatment organizations and the more than 10 million children, adults and families they serve. We advocate for policies to ensure equitable access to high-quality services. We build the capacity of mental health and substance use treatment organizations. And we promote greater understanding of mental wellbeing as a core component of comprehensive health and health care. Through our Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program, we have trained more than 3 million people in the U.S. to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges.

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