Naloxone, sometimes known by the product name Narcan, is capable of reversing opioid overdoses and saving lives.

Opioid Overdose Laws Association with Opioid Use and Mortality

"• Naloxone access laws that ease restrictions on naloxone possession and distribution are associated with a 20% reduction overdose deaths among African-Americans.
"• Good Samaritan laws, providing immunity from prosecution for those calling emergency services, are associated with broad reductions in overdose deaths, reducing overdose deaths by 13% overall.
"• None of these harm reduction measures result in increase in opioid or heroin use.

Naloxone Availability in Norway

"Naloxone is the most common antidote used for overdoses. It is normally ambulance personnel who administer naloxone in connection with opioid overdoses, and doses are administered by intramuscular or intravenous injection. It is now being discussed whether naloxone in the form of a mouth spray should be available to others as well, as first aid for someone who has overdosed
until the ambulance arrives."

Cost-Effectiveness of Naloxone Distribution

"Naloxone distribution was cost-effective in our base-case and all sensitivity analyses, with incremental costs per QALY [Quality-Adjusted Life-Year] gained much less than $50 000 (Table 2 and Appendix Figure 3, available at; see Appendix Table 3, available at, for detailed results of selected analyses). Cost-effectiveness was similar at starting ages of 21, 31, and 41 years; the greater QALY gains of younger persons were roughly matched by higher costs.

Benefits from Naloxone Distribution

"Naloxone distribution to heroin users would be expected to reduce mortality and be cost-effective even under markedly conservative assumptions of use, effectiveness, and cost. Although the absence of randomized trial data on naloxone distribution and reliance on epidemiologic data increase the uncertainty of results, there are few or no scenarios in which naloxone would not be expected to increase QALYs [Quality-Adjusted Life-Years] at a cost much less than the standard threshold for cost-effective health care interventions.

Providing Naloxone to Prisoners at Risk of Opioid Overdose on Release in Scotland

"SPS [Scottish Prison Service] developed an intervention to provide naloxone to prisoners at risk of opioid related overdose on release from prison, as part of the National Naloxone Programme, in recognition of the increased risk of overdose in the first four weeks following release from prison custody. The naloxone is packed in with their personal belongings, which are stored at reception, then supplied to the prisoner on release from custody.

Barriers to Naloxone Access

"A more prosaic, but no less important, legal barrier to widespread naloxone access is the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) classification of naloxone as a prescription drug. This means that public health and harm reduction agencies cannot distribute naloxone like condoms or sterile syringes. Instead, naloxone must be prescribed by a properly licensed health care provider after an individualized evaluation of the patient.

Rapid Effect of Naloxone

"Heroin is particularly toxic because of high lipid solubility, which allows it to cross the blood–brain barrier within seconds and achieve high brain levels.10
"Naloxone is also lipid soluble and enters the brain rapidly. Reversal of respiratory depression is evident 3–4 minutes after IV and 5–6 minutes after subcutaneous administration.11"

Naloxone Programs

"Naloxone distribution programs in the US are ongoing in Chicago, Baltimore, San Francisco, New Mexico and New York City. Additional community-based organizations interested in minimizing the adverse consequences of drug use in several cities in the US, including Los Angeles, Providence, Pittsburgh and Boston, are in the process of planning and developing naloxone administration programs for drug users."