Narcan (naloxone) was first developed in 1961, but today, it plays an increasingly important role in the fight against drug abuse and overdose deaths from opiates. The rise in prescription pain medication abuse has led to widespread opioid addiction across the country.
When administered to a patient who is experiencing an opioid overdose, Narcan can potentially block and reverse the effects of opiates. Narcan is available today as a nasal spray, but it can also be administered via a traditional syringe injection, through an atomizer or an auto-injector. It is recommended that Narcan be administered as soon as overdose is suspected. The effects only last between 60 and 90 minutes, meaning someone experiencing an overdose will still require emergency medical treatment in order to avoid continuing health risks after Narcan wears off.
Who is Prone to Opioid Addiction?
Although many people associate opioid overdose with the use of illegal drugs, there are many Americans who find themselves addicted to opiates due to prescription pain medications. Addiction does not discriminate based on age, gender, wealth or profession, and Medicare recipients can be vulnerable. People can become addicted to pain medications slowly over time, only to realize a problem exists once the addiction has taken hold.
With time and repeated use, opioid tolerance builds in the body, leading to higher and higher doses of opioids being required to maintain normalcy. When this occurs, there is a greater chance for overdose as the body cannot process the drug fast enough, and the autonomic system that regulates breathing, blood flow and heart rate begins to shut down.
In some cases, Narcan is also prescribed alongside prescription opioid medications for people who have chronic pain. This is done as a safety precaution in the event that an accidental overdose occurs or in the event that a Medicare patient suffers from overdose without realizing that they have taken too much of a medication.
Does Medicare Cover Narcan?
Because Medicare recipients are just as likely to fall victim to opioid addiction and the potential for overdose, it’s important to know whether Medicare covers Narcan. Narcan is usually covered under Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit. It should be noted, however, that costs and coverage vary by plan.
If you have Original Medicare, you can enroll in a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) to get help paying for medications prescribed by your physicians. As an alternative to Original Medicare, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan that includes the same Part A and Part B benefits as Original Medicare. Many MA plans include additional coverage, including prescription drug coverage.