CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – U.S. Senators Shelley More Capito and Joe Manchin of West Virginia are asking drug manufacturers to apply to sell naloxone, also known as the brand name Narcan, over the counter.

Naloxone is commonly used to combat the symptoms of opioids and can be used to prevent opioid overdoses. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Naloxone should be given to any person who shows signs of an opioid overdose or when an overdose is suspected.” But currently, naloxone is only available with a prescription and may only be distributed and dispensed by certain entities.

A group of 30 lawmakers, including Capito and Manchin, sent letters to seven drug manufacturers, urging them to apply for over the counter status for the drug.

“Given the scale of need at this moment, it has never been more important to adopt opioid overdose prevention and reversal strategies on a wide scale. This includes steps to increase access to affordable naloxone, which is a proven, effective tool to reduce medical emergencies, drug overdoses, and deaths,” said the lawmakers.

The group of lawmakers also said that making it an OTC medication will help to reduce the stigma related to the drug and encourage more widespread use.

According to the release from Senator Manchin, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected the drug epidemic and substance use disorder crisis, with the United States experiencing more than 100,000 overdose deaths in a 12-month period for the first time ever last year. A study found that substantially increased access to naloxone reduced opioid overdose mortality rates by 46 percent, according to the release.

“Naloxone is a remarkably effective and safe medication,” said Dr. Brian Hurley, President-Elect of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

The lawmakers sent letters to the CEOs of Pfizer, Emergent Biosolutions, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Hikma, Akorn, Adamis Pharmaceuticals and Amphastar Pharmaceuticals.

Click here to read the full letter.