WASHINGTON — Since NARCAN (naloxone) has been approved for over-the-counter sales, people continue to ask us about the medication that can save the life of someone overdosing on opioids.
Our VERIFY team has verified that it has an expiration date and that only one brand is allowed to be sold at retail. Another aspect people want to know is if they need to be cautious not to use it in the wrong situation.
Is naloxone safe to use on someone who is not suffering from an opioid overdose?
Yes, naloxone is safe to use on most people, though it may be harmful for a small number.
WHAT WE FOUND
Naloxone is viewed by many doctors and public health experts as an important way to stem the rising number of opioid deaths in the United States. Depending on the brand, it can come as a nasal spray or injection, and the CDC says it temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is often paired with Buprenorphine to treat opioid dependence.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says naloxone has no effect on someone who does not have opioids in their system. According to the CDC, it may be administered on people of all ages. The Anne Arundel County Department of Health reports on its website that naloxone is not addictive, but that it may not be safe for people who are allergic to it or are pregnant or nursing.
The National Institutes of Health reports that limited research has been done on the subject of naloxone’s impact on a fetus, but that, “people who misuse opioids could have a greater chance for pregnancy complications.”
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says that symptoms of a naloxone allergy include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Limited research suggests that using naloxone is safer for pregnant women than overusing opioids, and some people may be allergic to it, but medical experts agree that naloxone is safe to use on people who are not overdosing on opioids.