Local doctors weigh in on the push for Americans to carry Narcan
For the first time in more than a decade, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams is issuing a national advisory urging more people to carry and learn how to use the drug Naloxone, better known by the brand name Narcan.
For the first time in more than a decade, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams is issuing a national advisory urging more people to carry and learn how to use the drug Naloxone, better known by the brand name Narcan. Adams believe it is the most important weapon in the battle against the growing number of opioid deaths in our country.
Narcan can be found pretty much anywhere. It's available over the counter in 46 states, including Tennessee. With the push to get the medicine in more hands, Channel 3 wanted to know if local pharmacies are seeing an increase in sales.
"Most of what we do is prescription based for patients that are on opioids. The doctors that are writing prescriptions for opioids are writing prescriptions for Narcan," said Pharmacist Jeff Perry at Access Family Pharmacy.
Perry has worked at the Hixson pharmacy for four years. He says so far this year, the pharmacy has sold two Narcan nasal sprays, which were prescribed. The pharmacy hasn't sold any Narcan strictly over the counter.
"It is a prescription only product, but because we have a protocol with the state of Tennessee we can actually fill that prescription for you without you having to go to your doctor and get one," said Perry.
Perry says the Narcan nasal spray is easy to use.
"You put your thumb on the bottom, your fingers on the top. You insert it [Narcan] into the other person's nose; push in and it sprays into their nose and starts absorbing immediately."
Chattanooga police officers and emergency responders are already used to doing this. Some doctors say by the time opioid overdose patients get to the emergency room it may be too late. It's why Dr. Whitman Dowlen at CHI Memorial agrees; more people should have Narcan to help save lives.
"There's nothing to be afraid of. It's unfortunate that this is the position that we find ourselves in but it is the best thing to do," said Dr. Dowlen.
Dr. Dowlen says more than half of opioid overdose deaths occur at home, but with a Narcan kit available, some deaths may be prevented. He says if someone is unconscious or not breathing Narcan should be used. Other symptoms are "increased drowsiness unresponsive obviously, people who are more sleepy than usual."
If you were to buy Narcan nasal spray at Access Family Pharmacy right now, Perry says the co-pay would be $10-$100, with insurance. Without insurance, Perry says it would cost $150. However, generic injectable versions of Naloxone are cheaper.
Adams said 95 percent of all insured Americans are covered to purchase Naloxone.