Drugs, Risk and the Myth of the ‘Evil’ Addict


My column on making Naloxone available over-the-counter to reverse overdoses drew many plaudits and two main strands of criticism. One group argued that addicts aren’t worth saving and we need to cut the drug supply; the other said that Naloxone, also known by its brand name, Narcan, is too risky to be available without a prescription.

Let me address the second argument first. More than 50,000 Naloxone kits have already been distributed to drug users, pain patients and their loved ones in the United States and 10,000 successful overdose reversals have been reported.

The health advocacy group Public Citizen has asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize over-the-counter sales and has received a response that details the agency’s requirements for reclassification. A meeting on the topic of how best to expand access is expected to be held by the agency next May: according to its letter, the F.D.A. would probably want expensive clinical trials before granting over-the-counter status. It is not clear how that would be funded or whether it would allow alternative approaches