Emergent launches OTC opioid overdose drug, charging $45 so 'anyone can save a life'

Emergent BioSolutions has launched an over-the-counter version of its opioid overdose treatment Narcan, putting the emphasis on the potential for the product to keep loved ones safe with the tagline “anyone can save a life.”

Maryland-based Emergent won FDA approval for the OTC product in March and put Narcan at the heart of its plans to return to profitability in August. Responding to factors including the OTC launch, the company recently raised its full-year forecast for Narcan sales, adding $65 million at the top and bottom end to bump the target range up to between $425 million and $445 million.

Emergent recently began shipping OTC products to “leading mass, drug/pharmacy and grocery stores, as well as online retailers.” The nasal spray is scheduled to hit shelves in early September with a suggested retail price of $44.99. The price works out to $22.50 per dose. 

The launch of the OTC drug creates new commercialization challenges and opportunities for Emergent, which has mainly distributed the product via local health departments, harm reduction organizations, first responders, schools and other community organizations until now. 

Paul Williams, senior vice president of Emergent’s products business, discussed the commercialization plan for the OTC product in a statement, noting its focus on “expanding availability to online and in-store shelves, increasing awareness and education to reduce stigma, and calling on the public to be prepared.”

That focus is reflected in Emergent’s updated Narcan website, which carries text such as “anyone can save a life” and be ready “at home, at work or on the go with Narcan nasal spray.” The website states that “having Narcan nasal spray in your home's first aid kit or carrying it with you on the go can make a difference.”

The OTC Narcan launch moves Emergent, which competes with companies including Teva and Hikma in the prescription space, into virgin commercial territory, but its time as the only OTC player will be short-lived. Harm Reduction Therapeutics, a nonprofit partly funded by Purdue Pharma, won (PDF) FDA approval for an OTC product in July and plans to start selling the drug early next year.