Naloxone Soon Available Over The Counter

Apr 3, 2016

A prescription drug that counters the effects of an opioid overdose will soon be available over the counter.

Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill last week that makes Naloxone available without a prescription. The injectable drug is used to reverse the effects of an overdose from drugs such as Oxycodone and heroin.

Ellen Snelling, chair of the Hillsborough Anti Drug Alliance Board, said the new law will save lives, but more steps need to be taken.

"There could be something to go along with it, like a handout that tells you all the different treatment agencies, or signs of an overdose, just some kind of educational piece,” Snelling said.

The availability of Naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan, was one of the key recommendations of the Orange County Heroin Task Force, which studied strategies to fight the surge in heroin use.

In October 2015, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office was the first Florida law enforcement agency to announce it was equipping its deputies with the drug. A law passed last year allowed non-physicians such as law enforcement officers and caregivers to get Naloxone, but they still needed a prescription.

According to a report by the Florida Medical Examiner's Commission, heroin deaths have more than doubled in the state in the past 15 years.

--Daylina Miller is a reporter with WUSF in Tampa. WUSF is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.