A potentially lifesaving medication used to reverse drug overdoses could soon be seen on pharmacy shelves across the country.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced in a March 29 news release the 4-milligram naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray, known as Narcan, was approved for over-the-counter sales.

Naloxone products, including Narcan, were already available for purchase without a prescription in every U.S. state as leaders worked to combat the number of deaths attributed to overdoses, according to CVS. Despite its availability, not all pharmacies carried Narcan, or it was kept behind the counter and away from the general public in the store, according to prescription company GoodRx.

Battling opioid addiction and overdoses goes beyond efforts from federal entities. Medical City Frisco was one of 12 Medical City Healthcare hospitals to install a drug disposal box in its main entrance lobby in 2019 for residents to safely dispose of both used and unused medications.

Medications left over from a prescription or that have expired are often left in a medicine cabinet or around the house where other members of the household, such as family members, visitors, children and teens, can find and take them, according to Medical City Healthcare’s take-back program website. Accepted items at the drop boxes include pills in any packaging; medicated ointments, lotions or drops; liquid medications in leak-proof containers; vape cartridges without batteries; and pet medications. Needles, syringes, lancets and illegal drugs will not be accepted.

Disposal boxes, including the one at Medical City Frisco, are part of the Crush the Crisis Drug Take Back program and can be found at hospitals throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the U.S., offering a reliable place to anonymously dispose of the medication or substances before misuse.

“Increased accessibility to Narcan in tandem with some of our already established multifaceted programs, such as the Crush the Crisis Drug Take Back Program, can significantly reduce the incidence of opioid overdoses in our community,” said Joseph Parra, Medical City Healthcare’s chief medical officer, in a statement.

As the first naloxone product approved as over-the-counter medication, Narcan can now be sold and stored on the shelves of pharmacies, grocery and convenience stores, gas stations, and online shopping sites across the U.S., according to the FDA news release.

“Today’s approval of [over-the-counter] 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,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in the news release.

The road to approving Narcan as an over-the-counter medication began with a November announcement that naloxone products had the potential to be effective if sold over the counter and ended with a unanimous recommendation from an advisory committee in February, according to the news release. Testing and eventual approval of a model drug facts label for over-the-counter Narcan was announced in 2019.

“The FDA remains committed to addressing the evolving complexities of the overdose crisis,” Califf said in the news release. “As part of this work, the agency has used its regulatory authority to facilitate greater access to naloxone by encouraging the development of and approving an over-the-counter naloxone product to address the dire public health need.”

Deaths attributed to overdoses have been on the rise in Texas in recent years. Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated approximately 4,000 Texans, or 14 out of 100,000 people, died due to a drug overdose in 2020.

In October, one month before the FDA announced over-the-counter Narcan could be effective, Texas saw more than 5,000 overdose deaths.