Where's the Narcan? At pharmacies across the U.S., the OTC antidote can be hard to find

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To beryllium sure, Narcan is selling.

Since nan motorboat of nan over-the-counter type past fall, nan supplier tin beryllium purchased astatine much than 32,000 mass, drug, market and online retailers and e-commerce sites, Paul Williams, a elder vice president astatine Emergent BioSolutions, nan shaper of Narcan, said successful a statement. In 2023, nan institution distributed much than 20 cardinal doses of nan antidote, some over-the-counter and prescription, successful nan U.S. and Canada, he said.

In nan 4th fourth of past year, Emergent reported $111 cardinal successful Narcan sales, a 22% summation from nan twelvemonth prior. The summation was chiefly driven by income of nan over-the-counter version, nan drugmaker said.

Dennis Cauchon, president of Harm Reduction Ohio, a nonprofit group that distributes Narcan for free, said it’s still excessively early to gauge nan effect nan over-the-counter type is having connected nan opioid crisis.

Hadland knows of astatine slightest 1 lawsuit wherever a diligent utilized Narcan bought complete nan antagonistic to prevention a friend.

“People are recognizing it arsenic thing that everyone should see carrying pinch them,” he said. “I deliberation it will prevention lives.”

Matt Blanchette, a spokesperson for CVS Health, declined to stock income information for over-the-counter Narcan, but said nan stores person “ample supply” of nan product, located astatine nan beforehand shop registers and adjacent nan pharmacy.

All CVS pharmacists, Blanchette added, are trained connected really Narcan useful and tin supply counseling to group earlier they bargain it. People tin besides bargain nan merchandise astatine CVS.com.

Overcoming nan stigma

For a merchandise for illustration Narcan, anonymity is portion of access.

The stigma of stepping into a brightly lit shop and asking nan pharmacist aliases different worker for Narcan down nan antagonistic whitethorn beryllium nan biggest hurdle.

 Narcan successful an Atlanta Walgreens was down a ample metallic pole.Barrier to access: Narcan successful an Atlanta Walgreens was down a ample metallic pole.J.J. McCorvey / NBC News

“They whitethorn inquire each these invasive, elaborate questions like, ‘What’s your name? What do you do? How aged are you?’” House said. “Putting it retired front, not having it being prescribed, is conscionable taking down much of those stigmas and barriers.”

A Walgreens spokesperson said Narcan is placed down nan beforehand registry to guarantee it is highly visible to customers. There are besides propulsion cards connected shelves successful nan symptom alleviation aisle. The company, nan spokesperson added, is “continually communicating pinch our section teams to guarantee a accordant and due placement of nan product.”

At 16 Walgreens locations successful 11 states positive Washington, D.C., NBC News spotted it down nan drugstore counter, connected show by nan drugstore and connected nan support successful nan symptom alleviation aisle, successful summation to down nan beforehand register.

The costs barrier

Nearly each stores visited by NBC News priced over-the-counter Narcan astatine astir $45, a batch for galore group who usage opioids.

As of precocious February, a fistful of stores — including 4 Publix locations successful Florida and 1 successful Chattanooga, Tennessee — priced nan merchandise astatine $49.99. Two Walgreens locations, 1 successful Maryland and 1 successful Florida, sold Narcan for $49.99.

The Walgreens spokesperson said nan institution was communicating pinch stores astir consistently pricing nan merchandise astatine $44.99.

Publix did not respond to aggregate requests for comment.

Independent pharmacies whitethorn waste nan supplier astatine an moreover higher price, Cauchon said.

Hiding successful plain sight? At a Publix drugstore successful Chattanooga, Tenn., a Narcan show sat connected nan drugstore counter, but it was astir obscured by placards and pamphlets.Hiding successful plain sight? At a Publix drugstore successful Chattanooga, Tenn., a Narcan show sat connected nan drugstore counter, but it was astir obscured by placards and pamphlets.Heather Holley / NBC News

To really make a difference, nan two-dose packs request to beryllium priced astatine astir $5, he said.

“There are very fewer reports of group going successful and buying” Narcan successful Ohio, he said.

“In theory, it’s good. In retrospect, we’ll beryllium happy that this happened arsenic an arena successful history,” Doe-Simkins said of Narcan’s presence successful stores. “Right now, it’s distracting.”

Hadland said he expects nan group who will bargain over-the-counter Narcan will beryllium family members of group who usage opioids.

“I’ve particularly seen this among parents who progressively want to support Narcan astatine home, almost for illustration a occurrence extinguisher successful lawsuit of an emergency,” he said.

NBC Bay Area, NBC South Florida, NBC Connecticut and NBC affiliates KTAL (Shreveport, Louisiana), WBAL (Baltimore), WDTN (Dayton, Ohio), WFLA (Tampa, Florida), WIS (Columbia, South Carolina), WOWT (Omaha, Nebraska), WRAL (Raleigh, North Carolina) and WRCB (Chattanooga, Tennessee) contributed reporting.

Sara G. Miller

Sara G. Miller is nan wellness editor for NBC News, Health & Medical Unit. 

Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Berkeley Lovelace Jr. is simply a wellness and aesculapian newsman for NBC News. He covers nan Food and Drug Administration, pinch a typical attraction connected Covid vaccines, medicine supplier pricing and wellness care. He antecedently covered nan biotech and pharmaceutical manufacture pinch CNBC.

Alicia Victoria Lozano


Minyvonne Burke


Patrick Martin


Akshay Syal, M.D.


Erika Edwards


John Torres, M.D.


J.J. McCorvey