BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – With drug overdoses near record levels, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the over-the-counter sale of Narcan, a nasal spray that saves lives by reversing opioid overdoses.

Clearing the way for Narcan to be available in convenience stores, gas stations, or supermarkets. Bakersfield AIDS Project founder Audrey Chavez shares that this decision could make a big difference in Kern County.

“We needed this yesterday, we needed it before any of those deaths, we don’t need a certain number to tell us there’s a problem in our community, we already know it,” Chavez said.

In 2022, there were 219 fentanyl-related deaths in Kern County. With Narcan over the counter, Chavez shares that more people will be able to step up to save a life as we struggle to overcome this opioid epidemic.

“It is something that will empower us to save lives and empower someone to save the life of someone that we love,” Chavez said.

According to Kern Behavioral Health, after distributing more than 3,000 Narcan kits across kern county in 2022, with the help the drug, more than 90 overdose reversals were reported. Program Coordinator Jamie Bowman believes the number could be even larger with the FDA’s decision.

“Narcan is a key tool in reversing overdoses and preventing deaths, so I think this is a really helpful step in making sure that our community is saturated with Narcan,” Bowman said.

According to the manufacturer Emergent BioSolutions, Narcan will become available over the counter by late summer and the company has not announced what it will cost when it is available.

However, after the FDA’s decision, Walgreens said it would also offer over-the-counter Narcan later this year in-store and online nationwide.

To find Narcan now, go to any of the Kern County Libraries where they are available for free, a Kern BHRS Narcan Distribution site, or reach out to the Bakersfield AIDS Project at 661-742-3611.