Listen Live

Naloxone, the life-saving antidote to opioid overdose, will for the first time be available over-the-counter to the public on big box store shelves and online perhaps as soon as next week, maker Emergent Biosolution announced.

>> Read more trending news

Under the brand name Narcan, the drug will first be available online and in drugstores including Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart, and CVS with a retail cost of about $44.99 for a two-dose carton, CNN reports. No prescription will be required.

The call to make the drug readily available has grown louder as the rate of opioid overdoses has been soaring. The New York Times reported that there have been more than 100,000 overdose deaths each of the past two years in the United States.

Narcan has been a critical tool for emergency teams and street outreach organizations. Scientists and health officials hope that it will become readily available in libraries, dorms, corner delis, and street vending machines, the Times said.

The hope is that it will also be a staple in home medicine cabinets as recreational street drugs like cocaine and fake Xanax pills often are spiked with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid many times more potent than heroin.

The FDA approved Narcan as an over-the-counter drug last March. It will be sold in the form of a nasal spray that can counteract the effects of opioid overdose in minutes, CNN reported.