Walgreens Boots Alliance announced on Wednesday its plans to introduce a generic version of the overdose reversal drug Narcan. This new product, known as Walgreens Brand Naloxone HCI Nasal Spray, will be available at a price of $34.99, which is approximately $10 less than the branded version of Narcan.

Narcan, a nasal spray with the active ingredient naloxone, is a critical medication that can swiftly restore breathing in individuals experiencing an opioid overdose if administered promptly. In March 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Narcan for over-the-counter distribution, a significant step that advocates believe will enhance the drug’s accessibility and save lives amid the ongoing opioid crisis.

The branded Narcan spray became widely available in the fall of 2023 across pharmacies, drugstores, grocery stores, and online retailers, with a recommended price of $44.99 for a two-dose box. Walgreens’ decision to introduce a more affordable generic version aims to further increase the drug’s accessibility and affordability.

Dr. Priya Mammen, an emergency physician and senior medical director in the Walgreens office of clinical integrity, emphasized the strategic intent behind this move. “It was a very pointed decision to increase just the quantity of the product, not just from a single brand source, that is now allowed to be over the counter,” Dr. Mammen told ABC News. “And its $34.99 price point is about $10 lower than the brand product. So it’s definitely increased access, increased availability, and hopefully also increased affordability, which is the three-prong way to make sure we get it to as many people as we can.”

The generic naloxone spray is currently available online and will be stocked in Walgreens stores nationwide by the end of the month, located in the pain relief aisle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affirms that naloxone is safe for bystanders to administer to anyone suspected of experiencing an overdose and will not harm individuals if they are not actually overdosing.

Harm reduction advocates and public health experts have long called for easier access to naloxone, highlighting that over-the-counter availability removes the need to consult with a pharmacist, thereby reducing barriers and stigma associated with its purchase. Dr. Mammen noted that making the medication directly accessible on store shelves could help normalize its acquisition, similar to other first aid supplies.