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Narcan Hits The Shelves This Month

Shannon Barbin
Narcan on the shelf at CVS Pharmacy on Hardy Street

Beginning this month, Narcan will be available over the counter at pharmacies without a prescription.
“Narcan is used to reverse the effects from opioid overdoses in emergency situations,” said Angelica Tran, a local pharmacist. “It restores breathing and responsiveness. It works fast and reverses the effects of opioids.”
According to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, there were 440 people who died from overdoses in 2020 in Mississippi. There is a mass opioid epidemic taking place right now that has continuously grown since the late 1990s.
The University of Southern Mississippi has resources for someone with an addiction. There is a program called Shatterproof that is designed to beat the stigma by focusing on addiction. The university also offers student counseling sessions as well as behavioral health services.Some students are even trying to get a NA recovery group going.
“When I came back to [the] university after my most recent stint in rehab, everyone told me it was too soon, college will be way too stressful, and it will ruin your recovery,” said student, Chandler Shimp “It can be stressful, but I’ve made it quite far. As cheesy as it is, I really want to help someone else struggling with addiction or co-occurring disorders. Completing a degree while overcoming that is a unique challenge but far from impossible. An NA group on campus allows me to connect and hopefully serve as a resource to other people with similar experiences, while helping myself.”
Sana Sana Solangi, a pharmacist at CVS Pharmacy on Hardy Street spoke candidly on the dangers of opioids.
“Too many people may have accidentally abused them [or] purposely intentionally abused them and so the antidote would be the Narcan,” Solangi said. “It’s a nasal spray. Nasal sprays, they work a lot faster.”
Mississippi has a Good Samaritan Law which protects people calling in for an overdose.
“In the State of Mississippi, we have what’s called the Good Samaritan Law, which actually protects pharmacists from any type of lawsuit so that we can actually help protect the public,” Solangi said. “In case of an overdose that requires Narcan, like let’s say if somebody was out in the parking lot and they described to me like oh my friend just took a bunch of Percocet. They had an overdose. I could actually without a prescription administer Narcan. I am allowed to do that. For it to be made more accessible, in my opinion is a good idea just because some patients don’t know that you can get it without a prescription, and to have that easily accessible in case of an accidental overdose is good.”
However, Solangi does report on some of the drawbacks of having Narcan so accessible.
“There are negatives,” Solangi said. “A lot of people will think that, oh, it’s kind of encouraging people that you can take as much as you want because there is something that can fix it. There is no such thing as a cure all. While it is a good idea, it sometimes can be misconstrued and give a false sense of security. In a way, I don’t like that it is available over the counter because people will probably not always ask me a question. Yes, it’s great that we have it, but what if somebody uses it every day? That’s not good. That’s not what we recommend.”
Solangi wishes that she could give a counseling session prior to someone getting Narcan. She wants to be able to explain how to administer it, how often one can use it, and the risks such as becoming dependent on it.
“Narcan saves lives, period. It has saved my life more than once,” she said. “I have lost friends that may have been saved if someone near them had access to Naloxone. Life ending Opioid overdoses continue to increase in Mississippi and the U.S., so I think we should take advantage of over the counter Narcan. It can save a life. And if you had that choice, wouldn’t you do it?”
Narcan has already hit some of the shelves. The average cost for a box of Narcan containing two administrators is around $45. If you have any questions or concerns, contact your local pharmacist.

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