Overdose Reversal Medications


Close-up of hand holding package of naloxone nasal spray.
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  • Overdose reversal medications are safe and effective life-saving tools that can be given to someone experiencing a drug overdose. Current overdose reversal medications— including naloxone (Narcan®, Kloxxado®, Zimhi®, ReVive®) and nalmefene (Opvee®)—are approved to reverse overdoses caused by opioids like fentanyl, though NIDA supports the development of new medications to reverse overdoses caused by other drugs. Nasal spray versions of naloxone and nalmefene are available and can be carried and administered by anyone. Two formulations of naloxone nasal spray are available without a prescription.
  • As a harm reduction tool, overdose reversal medications play a critical role in a science-based approach to the drug overdose crisis. Overdose education and naloxone distribution programs have been shown in studies to be effective in preventing overdose deaths.1, 2, 3 By saving lives, overdose reversal medications can give people who use drugs more opportunities to access services they may need, such as treatment and recovery support for people with substance use disorders.
  • Certain naloxone and nalmefene formulations were developed with the support of NIDA. NIDA continues to support development of new and improved overdose reversal medications. These include tools that last longer, are more user-friendly, and reverse overdoses caused by drugs other than opioids and by combinations of multiple drugs. NIDA also funds research into more effective ways to detect and respond to overdose, distribute overdose reversal medications to the people who need them, and to prevent overdoses through education and harm reduction. 

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