SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The FDA has approved Narcan, the overdose reversal medication, for over-the-counter use.

22News spoke with first responders about this move, to help battle the opioid crisis in the US. They say this can help first responders, and others who carry it because seconds matter in a dire situation.

“You could save someone’s life,” said Kim D’Angelo, Operations Manager, AMR Springfield. “If someone is overdosing on opioids, you could take part in saving their life, now that access to Narcan is expanding.”

D’Angelo adds, “opioid overdose decreases your respiratory drive, so it can cause someone to stop breathing.” The FDA approved the life-saving treatment for over-the-counter, nonprescription use of the 4-milligram naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray, also known as Narcan, in the ongoing fight against the opioid crisis in the US.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in 2022 there were nearly 1,700 opioid-related overdose deaths, which was about a 1.5% decrease from 2021. One study shows narcan’s effectiveness, saving about 93% of the people who received the medication. First responders told 22news, using the reversal drug is pretty straightforward.

“It comes in a cartridge, a nasal spray, and you just spray it up either nostril,” expressed D’Angelo. D’Angelo adds to be on the lookout for the warning signs of an overdose and be ready to spring into action.

“As soon as you see someone with any color change, they start to lose consciousness or they are having trouble breathing, you should give it, just give it once and call 911,” she said. The FDA says the process to switch from prescription to over-the-counter could take months, and costs will be up to the manufacturer. FDA officials have said that once approved, it could be sold in places such as convenience stores, grocery stores, and even vending machines.

The Springfield Police Department has been using Narcan for the past four years, in that time officers have administered 446 doses.