Addiction, Drugs, Public Health

Naloxone now available over the counter in King County

Box and dispenser of opioid overdose drug Narcan (naloxone)

By Fred Mariscal, Public Health — Seattle & King County

The medication naloxone, brand name Narcan, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and save lives, is now available over the counter (OTC). Improving access and increasing awareness of administering naloxone is critical for building a resilient community and mitigating the overdose crisis.

How to Obtain Naloxone at Pharmacies

Naloxone is now available over the counter, and major pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and Rite Aid sell a 2-dose box for around $45. Not all pharmacies may have it in stock, so it’s best to contact them before you go to confirm availability.

Some health insurance plans may cover the cost or provide a discount since the $45 price may be a barrier for some people who want to buy the medication. People enrolled in Apple Health can get the kit for free, without a copay.

Naloxone by mail

This option is ideal for those who may find in-person access challenging. Deliveries might take up to three weeks based on supply availability.

1. The Kelley-Ross Pharmacy Group provides mail-order and walk-in access within King County. The mail-order program is meant for people who do not have insurance coverage or who can’t easily go to a community organization or a pharmacy to get a kit.

2. Visit the Washington Department of Health for regions outside King County.

To find naloxone near you, search the Washington State Naloxone Finder. Be sure to contact the chosen location to confirm availability.

What it Means for the Community

Decreasing barriers for the community to have naloxone is a vital tool to reduce the risk of fatal overdoses. In addition, the availability of naloxone over the counter has the potential to destigmatize substance use and improve outcomes for people with opioid use disorder by:

  • Encouraging Early Intervention: Stigma can deter individuals from seeking support for substance use disorder and prevent those affected by the opioid overdose crisis from obtaining critical overdose first aid.

“Moving naloxone over the counter will help remove the stigma lingering around,” said Ryan Oftebro, Pharmacist and CEO of Kelley Ross Pharmacy Group. “The presence of naloxone in pharmacies serves as a beacon of hope and communicates that help and support are available, and recovery is possible.”

  • Immediate Access to a Lifesaving Medication: The over-the-counter availability of naloxone reinforces the fact that opioid use disorder is a medical condition. An opioid overdose can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, background, or socioeconomic status. This availability will allow everyone a chance to safeguard against an opioid overdose.
  • Supporting Families and Communities: Addiction affects not only the person using opioids but also their families and friends. The increase in available naloxone empowers family members and friends to prevent overdose deaths actively. This support network can be critical in aiding individuals who struggle with addiction.

To learn how to use naloxone, please visit Overdose Response Instructions (PDF) or Opioid Overdose – Administering Naloxone video.

Originally published October 20, 2023.

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