The FDA is working to make a drug that helps saves lives more accessible

PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says there were 330 overdose-related deaths in the state in December of last year. But now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working to make a drug that could help save lives more readily available.

“They come and brought Narcan and brought me back out of it, and I remember as plain as day the first thing I said was, why did yall do that,” said Peter Peedin.

Peter Peedin remembers the day Narcan saved his life from an overdose.

Now the FDA is considering plans to make it available over-the-counter with no prescription, and Peedin is hoping it can save other lives as well.

“Have it on every corner ya know you can go by drugs on every corner; you should be able to get something that saves the person on every corner,” said Peedin.

Two FDA committees voted Wednesday to approve the sale of Narcan at grocery stores and gas stations. But in order to make the drug more readily available, the label would need to add simple use instructions and alert the user to call 911.

“I think everyone should have some type of knowledge and know how to distribute it or even keep a box or two in their car. That’s how serious the substance use is right now, even post-COVID and it has really really gotten bad out here,” said Khrecia Holley, a peer support specialist.

However, not everyone is quite on board with making Narcan more available.

Chief Carson Sanders with Greenville Fire Rescue says it could end up being a double-edged sword.

“For one, it’s more available, so yes, to possibly save more lives and try to keep people breathing a little longer while EMS gets there, that’s a great thing. One of the things, though, that having access and everybody knowing that it is available, some people sadly believe that it’s okay to maybe have an overdose,” said, Sanders.

The final decision is now left to the FDA Commissioner, who has not said when that decision could be made. The new version would come in a package of two four-milligram doses in case the person does not respond to the first dose. During Wednesday’s meeting, the FDA said it hopes to expedite the non-prescription version of Narcan if it is approved.