Free Narcan, no questions asked
- Published: October 3, 2023
In partnership with Greene County Public Health, or GCPH, Yellow Springs Pharmacy is now offering free doses of naloxone.
The FDA-approved medication — known by its brand name, Narcan — blocks the effects of opioids such as fentanyl, oxycodone, heroin and others, and can be used to temporarily reverse an opioid-related overdose.
The free Narcan came to Yellow Springs on Friday, Sept. 22, when two GCPH workers filled a large purple kiosk near the pharmacy’s prescription counter with boxes of the life-saving medication, along with instructional materials on when and how to administer it safely.
“The main idea behind this kiosk is to reduce some of the stigma around Narcan and opioid use, and also to break down some of the barriers to accessing the medication,” Alayna Romer, a health educator with GCPH told the News last week. “It’s something that can save a life, so why wouldn’t you have it on-hand, just in case?”
As Romer explained, the suggested retail price for Narcan is often over $40, and for some, that can be a prohibitive price tag.
“It’s not equitable for some people to be able to afford life-saving medication like this,” she said. “This kiosk makes it free and readily available for anyone in the community.”
According to Yellow Springs Police Department records, local officers have had to administer naloxone only once in the last year.
“But you never know who you’ll run into or when you may need it,” Romer said. “There’s this stigma around the particular type of person who may need Narcan — and that needs to be reduced or eliminated entirely. It could be your grandma who suddenly has trouble metabolizing her medication.”
As an opioid receptor antagonist, Narcan blocks the brain’s uptake of opioids by attaching to receptors and reversing, thus blocking, the effects of other opioids. It can quickly restore normal breathing to a person if their breathing has slowed or stopped because of an overdose.
To use the nasal spray Narcan available at Yellow Springs Pharmacy, in the event of a possible overdose, gently insert the tip of the nozzle into one nostril, press the plunger and remove the nasal spray after one dose. Naloxone acts within two to five minutes; if the affected individual still remains unconscious after a five-minute period, the person administering the medicine should dispense a second dose. Each free box of the medication contains two doses and the above instructions.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, if naloxone is given to a person who is not experiencing an opioid overdose, it is harmless; if naloxone is administered to a person who is dependent on opioids, it will produce withdrawal symptoms, which, although uncomfortable, are not life-threatening.
“The good thing is you don’t have to worry about measuring anything — and in an emergency situation [involving an overdose], that’s extremely convenient, because everyone can be really frazzled,” Romer said. “Time can move super fast in those situations, and these sprays take thought processes out of the equation.”
The kiosk and the free doses of Narcan are funded through the Ohio Department of Health’s “Project DAWN” — deaths avoided with naloxone — integrated harm reduction program. Also available for free at Yellow Springs Pharmacy, courtesy of GCPH, are Plan B emergency contraception pills; condoms; lubricant; educational public health resources and materials; and contact information for the county health agency.
There are also free Narcan kiosks elsewhere in Greene County: at the Coffee Hub in Xenia, the Greene County FISH Pantry, the Fairborn Chamber of Commerce and at the Central State University police department, which is open 24/7.