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Over-the-counter Narcan could soon be used on the front lines of Lane County's opioid epidemic

A package of Narcan nasal spray.
A Narcan nasal spray kit.

A recent decision by the FDA to approve over-the-counter Narcan may hit close to home for some residents of Lane County, which has one of the highest rates of opioid overdoses of any county in Oregon.

Narcan is a nasal spray containing naloxone, a medication that rapidly reduces the effects of opioid overdose. Before now, a prescription was needed to access the potentially life-saving drug.

Brooks McLain is the spokesperson for Eugene’s HIV Alliance, which procures Narcan through contracts with state or federal agencies and trains the public how to use it. Last year, the group says it reversed over 1,100 overdoses in the community by utilizing education and harm reduction tactics.

“Our approach is really grounded in reducing as much harm as possible," McLain said. "And what we’ve found is that when folks have access to Narcan, then they’re more likely to start thinking about their health.”

The timeline regarding price and availability of OTC Narcan will be determined by the manufacturer and the FDA. Nalaxone training is available online through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jasmine Lewin was a freelance reporter in 2022 and 2023. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Lewin wrote for the University of Oregon quarterly magazine Ethos before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
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