Naloxone facts and formulations

Naloxone is a life-saving drug that reverses the effects of opioids like heroin and fentanyl. Giving naloxone to someone who has overdosed prevents death by restoring normal breathing.

Facts about naloxone

  • In March 1961, Dr. Jack Fishman and Dr. Mozes Lewenstein applied for one of the first patents for naloxone. In 1971, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved using naloxone to treat overdoses.
  • Paramedics and hospitals have been using naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses for decades.
  • Naloxone is also referred to as “Narcan”, the brand name for nasal spray naloxone.
  • Naloxone is safe, easy to administer, and has no side effects.
  • Naloxone can be administered intramuscularly, intravenously, and intranasally. All FDA approved formulations for naloxone are available in MA.
  • Naloxone has a shelf life ranging from 24 months to 36 months, depending on the formulation.
  • Individuals in Massachusetts can access Naloxone from the pharmacy or access it through a BSAS-approved program that carries Naloxone. Naloxone rescue kits from the pharmacy range in cost depending on insurance coverage.
  • Naloxone is highly effective at reversing opioid overdoses. Find out how to use Naloxone here. 

The different ways naloxone can be administered

A. Multi-Step Nasal Spray. Directions: Spray 1 ml (half of the syringe) into each nostril. No brand name/generic. Cost: $-$$. B. Single-Step Nasal Spray. Directions: Spray full dose into one nostril. Brand name: narcan. Cost: $$$. C. Intramuscular injection. Directions: Inject 1 ml in shoulder or thigh. No brand name/generic.Cost: $-$$.

For more detailed information about formulations, visit Prescribe to Prevent.

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