Does Narcan (naloxone) cause side effects?

Narcan (naloxone) is a synthetic (man-made) opioid antagonist used for partial or complete reversal of respiratory depression caused by synthetic or natural opioids (narcotics), and to diagnose suspected or known acute opioid overdose. Narcan is also used to increase blood pressure in people with septic shock

Narcan blocks the action of opioid medications such as morphine and related drugs and it works by binding to mu-receptors in the brain that opioids use to produce their effect on pain and other symptoms. By binding to mu receptors, Narcan reverses opioid activity in the body.

Common side effects of Narcan include

  • increase or decrease in blood pressure,
  • abnormal heart rate and rhythm, and
  • diarrhea.

Serious side effects of Narcan include

Narcan may interact with other drugs. Large doses of Narcan are required when used together with buprenorphine since buprenorphine binds and dissociates slowly from mu receptors. 

There are no adequate studies done on Narcan to determine safe and effective use in pregnant women.

It is unknown if Narcan enters breast milk; therefore, it is best to be cautious before using it in women who are breastfeeding.

What are the important side effects of Narcan (naloxone)?

Side effects of Naloxone are:

  • increase or decrease in blood pressure,
  • abnormal heart rate and rhythm,
  • troubled breathing,
  • cardiac arrest,
  • fluid retention in lungs, and
  • diarrhea.

Narcan (naloxone) side effects list for healthcare professionals

Postoperative

The following adverse events have been associated with the use of Narcan (naloxone) in postoperative patients:

Death, coma, and encephalopathy have been reported as sequelae of these events. Excessive doses of Narcan (naloxone) in postoperative patients may result in significant reversal of analgesia and may cause agitation Opioid Depression

Abrupt reversal of opioid depression may result in nausea, vomiting, sweating, tachycardia, increased blood pressure, tremulousness, seizures, ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation, pulmonary edema, and cardiac arrest which may result in death.

Opioid Dependence

Abrupt reversal of opioid effects in persons who are physically dependent on opioids may precipitate an acute withdrawal syndrome which may include, but is not limited to, the following signs and symptoms:

In the neonate, opioid withdrawal may also include:

  • convulsions;
  • excessive crying;
  • hyperactive reflexes.

Adverse events associated with the postoperative use of Narcan (naloxone) are listed by organ system and in decreasing order of frequency as follows:

Cardiac Disorders: pulmonary edema, cardiac arrest or failure, tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, and ventricular tachycardia. Death, coma, and encephalopathy have been reported as sequelae of these events.

Gastrointestinal Disorders: vomiting, nausea

Nervous System Disorders: convulsions, paresthesia, grand mal convulsion

Psychiatric Disorders: agitation, hallucination, tremulousness

Respiratory Thoracic and Mediastinal Disorders: dyspnea, respiratory depression, hypoxia

Skin and Subcutaneous Tissue Disorders: nonspecific injection site reactions, sweating

Vascular Disorders: hypertension, hypotension, hot flushes or flushing.

What drugs interact with Narcan (naloxone)?

Large doses of naloxone are required to antagonize buprenorphine since the latter has a long duration of action due to its slow rate of binding and subsequent slow dissociation from the opioid receptor.

Buprenorphine antagonism is characterized by a gradual onset of the reversal effects and a decreased duration of action of the normally prolonged respiratory depression.

The barbiturate methohexital appears to block the acute onset of withdrawal symptoms induced by naloxone in opiate addicts.

Does Narcan (naloxone) cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms?

Drug Abuse And Dependence

Narcan (naloxone) is an opioid antagonist. Physical dependence associated with the use of Narcan (naloxone) has not been reported. Tolerance to the opioid antagonist effect of Narcan (naloxone) is not known to occur.

Summary

Narcan (naloxone) is a synthetic (man-made) opioid antagonist used for partial or complete reversal of respiratory depression caused by synthetic or natural opioids (narcotics), and to diagnose suspected or known acute opioid overdose. Narcan is also used to increase blood pressure in people with septic shock. Common side effects of Narcan include an increase or decrease in blood pressure, abnormal heart rate and rhythm, and diarrhea. There are no adequate studies done on Narcan to determine safe and effective use in pregnant women. It is unknown if Narcan enters breast milk.

Treatment & Diagnosis

Medications & Supplements

FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Medically Reviewed on 8/25/2020
References
FDA Prescribing Information

Professional side effects, drug interactions, and addiction sections courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
CONTINUE SCROLLING FOR RELATED SLIDESHOW