U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson is pushing for over-the-counter availability of Naloxone, a nasal inhalant drug used to treat people who have overdosed on heroin or opioids.
The Orlando Democrat, who is running for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat, announced Thursday he has sent a letter to Dr. Stephen Ostroff of the Food and Drug Administration asking him to reclassify Naloxone from being a prescription drug.
U.S. Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Bill Foster, D-Ill., and 12 other members of Congress added their signatures to Grayson’s letter.
According to Grayson’s office, the World Health Organization estimates that greater access to Naloxone would prevent 20,000 opioid overdose deaths in the United States each year.
The medication is widely carried by emergency medical service paramedics and other first responders to be used on overdose victims at the scene.
Naloxone blocks opioids from working on the brain and nervous system, while also reversing their effects on respiratory depression, which can cause overdose victims to stop breathing, Grayson’s release stated, adding it has no pharmacological effect if administered to a person who has not taken opioids, and it has no potential for abuse.
“Reclassifying Naloxone as over-the-counter would save thousands of lives every year,” Grayson stated in the release. “This is a quick, risk-free step that the FDA can take to respond to the heroin and opioid epidemic that has spread across the nation.”
“Current regulatory law must not stand in the way of saving lives,” Rohrabacher added. “A proven antidote to overdoses must be readily available, and so a regulatory adjustment needs to be made urgently.”
Studies show that the vast majority of overdose victims are not alone when they overdose, the release stated, so reclassifying Naloxone as over-the-counter would be an important step in making sure the drug can be accessed and administered while someone is waiting for emergency medical services teams to arrive.