As fentanyl and opioids continue to make headlines, so too does another name: Narcan.

In a country where opioid overdoses account for around 100 deaths daily, the advent of Narcan has already saved numerous lives.

However, up until now, there has been a barrier in the way of naloxone’s spread. This barrier was the fact that, though police officers and medical professionals have carried naloxone since 2010, getting naloxone for individuals required a prescription.

As quickly deploying the drug can increase an overdose sufferer’s chances of survival, a prescription requirement meant that sufferers could be waiting a significant amount of time before receiving the drug — a wait time that could prove deadly.

Now, there’s some good news. As of last month, the FDA has officially approved the first over-the-counter Narcan nasal spray. This means that, starting this year, customers will be able to buy Narcan without a prescription.

“Today’s approval of OTC naloxone nasal spray will help improve access to naloxone, increase the number of locations where it’s available and help reduce opioid overdose deaths throughout the country,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. in statement. “We encourage the manufacturer to make accessibility to the product a priority by making it available as soon as possible and at an affordable price.”

Improving access to Narcan may be instrumental in saving lives for multiple reasons.

First, offering the drug over the counter will improve access. While we mentioned before that some police officers and medical professionals carry Narcan, many do not. If someone suffering from an overdose has the drug on-hand, it may increase their likelihood of overcoming the overdose.

Second, removing the need for a prescription may help reduce the stigma those with opioid use disorder feel around obtaining the drug. If one has an addiction to opioids, they may feel uncomfortable discussing it with their doctor or other healthcare professionals. Allowing them to obtain the drug without doing so enables them to better their chances of survival if they ever have an overdose.

Finally, the increased presence of Narcan on store shelves, the resultant discussion around it in the media, and FDA’s accompanying public information campaigns may make more people with opioid use disorder aware of the drug’s existence and uses. This can in turn lead more people to the drug.

There are still some issues with a wider Narcan release, however. The FDA has signaled that the full implementation of their planned rollout could take months, meaning that Narcan won’t be available on most store shelves until later this summer.

Additionally, it is still unknown how much Narcan will cost when it is eventually sold OTC. While Narcan is usually fully or almost-fully covered by Medicaid and private insurance, current prices for those who don’t have insurance vary considerably. Experts hope that the move of Narcan nasal spray to OTC will cause the price to drop, thus making it accessible to more people.

Furthermore, while Narcan’s move to OTC is a positive development, it must be accompanied by a public information campaign to ensure its proper use. Friends and family of those with opioid use disorder must be told how to deploy the drug. Bystanders to someone having an overdose must also be informed that they should still call 911 after administering the medication. This is because the effects of naloxone are temporary, and the opioid itself can at times outlast the drug’s healing effects.

This is not the end of the story for naloxone. Numerous applications for naloxone-related drugs are currently making their way through the FDA, and, in time, it’s likely that there will be additional drugs on the market for this specific purpose.

For now, this is a step in the right direction — but more work must be done to ensure that its rollout is effective.