Narcan, an intranasal form for naloxone hydrochloride, has been approved by the FDA for the reversal of opioid overdose.
Naloxone hydrochloride has long been given by intramuscular injection in order to stop or reverse the effects of opioid overdose, in particular respiratory depression. It usually works within 2 minutes, but must be given quickly to prevent death.
The nasal form will be easier for first responders and others to deliver, and will eliminate the threat of contaminated needle sticks. Until now, unapproved naloxone kits have combined the injectable form of naloxone with an atomizer to administer the drug nasally.
In contrast, no assembly is required for the approved naloxone nasal product, and anyone can administer it, even those without medical training. The product can be given to adults and children. It is sprayed into one nostril while the patient lies on their back, and can be repeated if needed. The FDA cautions that the person administering the drug should still seek immediate medical attention for the patient.
Naloxone nasal spray can cause severe opioid withdrawal in patients who are opioid dependent.