CVS to Stock Overdose-Antidote Naloxone
CVS pharmacies in 14 states will now stock the overdose-antidote medication, naloxone, and make it available without a prescription. Could this be the key to reducing the amount of overdose deaths each year?
Mega pharmacy chain, CVS, recently announced that they will now stock the opioid overdose reversal medication, naloxone, and make it available without a prescription in 14 states. The states slated to carry the medication are Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. Naloxone is already available without a prescription in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Tom Davis, Vice President of Pharmacy Professional Practices at CVS, said “Over 44,000 people die from accidental drug overdoses every year in the United States and most of those deaths are from opioids, including controlled substances pain medication and illegal drugs such as heroin. Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses and by providing access to this medication in our pharmacies without a prescription in more states, we can help save lives.”
CVS is receiving high praise from many fighting against addiction and overdoses. California deputy director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Laura Thomas was among those applauding the company as she said:
“The fact that just one year ago the bill was signed, and now today we’re seeing CVS stores all across California beginning to sell naloxone without a prescription is a testament to how hard many, many people worked behind the scenes to make this happen so fast. It can sometimes take years for laws to be fully implemented due to myriad levels of bureaucracy, but in the case of pharmacy naloxone, everyone worked together from the very beginning with cooperation and excitement to do something great for California families.”
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone is a synthetic drug that was created to reverse the devastating effects of opioids of both prescription medications and street drugs. It’s effectiveness lies within its ability to neutralize the actual opioids in the body, which then enables patients to resume breathing and prevents the body from absorbing more of the overdose inducing substances.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the medication due to its proven lifesaving ability as a recent study published in the Center for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report noted that an astonishing 27,000 drug overdoses have been reversed since it was first introduced to medical professionals in 1996.
One researcher wrote, “U.S. And international health organizations recommend providing naloxone kits to laypersons who might witness an opioid overdose; to patients in substance use treatment programs; to persons leaving prison and jail; and as a component of responsible opioid prescribing.”
Rising Overdose Rates
The decision to offer naloxone comes at a crucial time. The rate of prescription medication overdoses has reportedly quadrupled since 1999.
These alarming statistics drove CVS to action in an effort to save the lives of those accidentally overdosing on highly addictive opioids like heroin, oxycodone and oxycontin. The overdose medication is often carried in emergency rooms and ambulances, but the limited access to it has left a gap in timely treatment that simply has to be filled. It is their goal to widen the medication’s net of availability.
Davis said, “While all 7,800 CVS/pharmacy stores nationwide can continue to order and dispense naloxone when a prescription is presented, we support expanding naloxone availability without a prescription and are reviewing opportunities to do so in other states.”
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