“Put profit margins aside,” says Saint Joseph’s University expert on Narcan over-the-counter approval by FDA

Narcan, a prescription nasal spray that reverses opioid overdoses, can now be sold over the counter after the FDA authorized the move on March 29. 

Peter A. Clark, S.J., PhD, is the director of the Institute of Bioethics and professor of medical ethics at Saint Joseph’s University. While he says the FDA authorization is good news, it is just a first step. 

Clark says the following: 

“In 2021, there were 107,000 reported fatal overdoses of opioids in the United States,” says Clark. “Access to Narcan has saved countless lives. We estimate that 44 million doses of Narcan have been distributed since 2016.”

“With the new FDA ruling, which approves OTC naloxone nasal spray over the counter, access to Narcan has the potential to reduce opioid overdoses throughout the United States,” says Clark.

“The major issue will be the cost of the over-the-counter Narcan,” says Clark. “A two-pack prescription of Narcan costs about $140 and with discounts, it could be less than $50 a dose. I would implore the pharmaceutical manufacturer to make accessibility to Narcan a priority and make sure it is at an affordable price.”

“Emergent BioSolutions has declined to disclose the price it plans to charge for the over-the-counter version of Narcan,” says Clark. “If this company is dedicated to improving public health, then I would implore them to put profit margins aside and look for what is in the best interest of the common good. Over-the-counter Narcan has the potential to save thousands of lives of the most vulnerable members of our society and the manufacturer has the means to make this become a reality.”

George A. Downs, PharmD, is the Dean Emeritus of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (PCP) and Linwood F. Tice Professor of Pharmacy at Saint Joseph’s University. He agrees with Father Clark.

Downs says: 

“Finally, Narcan will be available to the general public,” says Downs. “Remember the days when Ipecac Syrup was available in every medicine cabinet? If a child took a poison, Ipecac Syrup was administered as the parents raced to the emergency room. Now, naloxone should be in everyone’s medicine cabinet (or, better, in every briefcase) in case an overdose is encountered.” 

“OTC naloxone provides for easy access,” says Downs. “However, cost will now become an issue. If the cost of Narcan is prohibitive, the general public will still not buy it and availability will still be a problem.” 

Media Contact: Kevin Gfeller, assistant director of public relations at Saint Joseph’s University. 

Email: [email protected]

About Saint Joseph’s University

Founded in 1851 as Philadelphia’s Jesuit university, Saint Joseph’s University prepares students for a rapidly changing world by focusing on academic excellence and courageous exploration. With an intellectual tradition distinguished by a foundational liberal arts core and diversified by strong professional programs in education, business, health and science, Saint Joseph’s students are empowered, challenged and supported by faculty-scholar mentors to follow their own path. There are nearly 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students in the University’s four schools and colleges — the College of Arts and Sciences, the Erivan K. Haub School of Business, the School of Education and Human Development, and the School of Health Professions. With academic offerings in the most sought-after majors, including leading programs in the first-in-the-nation Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, nearly 100% of students are employed, pursuing advanced degrees or volunteering in prestigious service programs upon graduation. The University’s two networks of nearly 100,000 proud alumni keep alive the rallying cry — The Hawk Will Never Die.