The nation’s largest drug retailing chain Walgreens will be selling overdose antidote over-the-counter, without the need for prescription. The decision could save thousands of lives, and prevent death by heroin overdose or prescription drugs.
- Naloxone, or Narcan, can prevent death from drug overdose
- WHO estimated that it can prevent 20,000 lives from being lost in the U.S. per year
- Walgreens have started installing dispensaries in their stores
- The initial target is to have them in 500 stores across 39 states
- Future plans is to expand that number to 5,800 stores
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 2014 recorded a spike in overdose deaths, a 14% increase and the record. In fact, drug overdoses killed more people than traffic accidents. However, naloxone (commercially known as Narcan) could be one of the saving graces. It’s a highly effective antidote, introduced through injection or nasal spray, that can stop the effects of drug overdose.
It’s the most immediate and successful method that could potentially save a life. It would offer the patient time to be taken to the hospital. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the use of naloxone could prevent 20,000 deaths in the United States from drug abuse per year. The issue is now making the drug available as quickly accessible and as easy as possible. Enter Walgreens.
The major chain is looking to install dispensaries in their 24-hour stores that will offer naloxone without a prescription. The company begun installing them in New York last week, and will soon be starting the program in Indiana and Ohio later this month. However, they’re not stopping there. In order to put their stamp on the fight against drug abuse, Walgreens will be installing the life-saving drug dispensaries in half of their stores around the nation.
Initially, the retail chain plans on making them available mainly in their 24-hour-open locations. This will stretch to 500 stores across 39 states in the U.S. and Washington D.C., but the number will later increase. According to Walgreens, they intend on making naloxone available in over 5,800 of their stores, which is over half of its 8,200 total locations.
According to Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president of pharmacy and retail operations, this will make them the number one store to take the fight against prescription drug abuse. They will reportedly be ready to help patients and face the challenge along with the community. The stakes are high, so their solutions must be equally comprehensive if the fatality rate is to go down.
Naloxone aims to help patients who have overdosed on heroin or prescription drugs. The latter was the source of 52% of deaths caused last year by drug abuse. Hopefully, their strong involvement can make a difference and the number of lives lost will plummet in the coming years.
Image source: nytimes.com