CVS and Walgreens expanding drugstore access to naloxone in 35 states and Washington DC

CVS and Walgreens expanding drugstore access to naloxone in 35 states and Washington DC

Two major drugstore chains, CVS and Walgreens, will be offering the opioid overdose-reversal medication naloxone to the public without the need for a prescription in at least 35 states and DC by the end of this year. Under physician-approved protocols, CVS has already established the program in these 23 states:

* Arkansas * California * Connecticut
* Indiana * Kentucky * Maryland
* Massachusetts * Minnesota * Mississippi
* Montana * New Hampshire * New Jersey
* New York * North Carolina * North Dakota
* Ohio * Pennsylvania * Rhode Island
* Tennessee * Utah * Vermont
* Virginia * Wisconsin

CVS says it will add a total of 20 states to the naloxone program in 2016, and will announce additional states throughout the remainder of the year. “Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdose,” said Tom Davis, Vice President of Pharmacy Professional Practices at CVS Pharmacy, “and by expanding availability of this medication, we can save lives and give more people a chance to get the help they need for recovery. “By establishing a physician-approved protocol that allows our pharmacies to dispense naloxone to patients without an individual prescription, we strengthen our commitment to help the communities we serve by preventing drug abuse,” Davis added.

Walgreens also on board

Walgreens, the other major drugstore chain, has announced a no-prescription naloxone program for 35 states and DC this year. The company says the medication is available now at Walgreens pharmacies in New York State, Indiana and Ohio. More states planned for 2016 include:
* Alabama * Arkansas * California
* Colorado * Connecticut * District of Columbia
* Idaho * Illinois * Indiana
* Kentucky * Louisiana * Maine
* Maryland * Massachusetts * Minnesota
* Mississippi * Montana * Nebraska
* New Hampshire * New Jersey * New Mexico
* New York * North Carolina * Ohio
* Oklahoma * Oregon * Pennsylvania
* Rhode Island * South Dakota * Tennessee
* Texas * Utah * Vermont
* Virginia * Washington * Wisconsin

Long history of saving lives

Naloxone, popularly known by the trade name Narcan, is used to reverse the effects of an overdose of heroin or other opioid drug, which can stop a person’s breathing, resulting in death. Naloxone is administered by injection or nasal spray, and has been the standard treatment for opioid overdose for many years. No one knows how many lives have been saved by the swift use of naloxone, but it must be at least in the many tens of thousands. Until recently, though, naloxone was mostly used to save the lives of overdose victims in hospital emergency rooms, and by the few emergency response teams that carried it in their ambulances. Today, naloxone kits are provided to more and more police and EMTs across the country, but use by the public was rare. Some naloxone dispensing kits required a little training, which made it more difficult to use correctly and hampered distribution to the public. But with the advent of more easily-used dispensers and simplified instructions, kits can now be made available to fellow addicts and friends and families of addicts to use in emergencies. Although first-responders save countless lives with naloxone, sometimes they just can’t get there in time. That’s why the CVS and Walgreens programs are so welcome. Michael Botticelli, director of the White House National Drug Control Policy, said that expanding access to naloxone “is a critical part of our national strategy to stop the prescription drug and heroin overdose epidemic, along with effective prevention, treatment, and enforcement. Thanks to efforts on naloxone like those announced today by CVS Health, more Americans will have access to this lifesaving drug.”

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