Opioid overdoses can, and do, happen just about anywhere, from schools to public parks, from homes to workplaces, restaurants, and night clubs. Narcan (naloxone) is a drug that can be used to halt an overdose, and it’s increasingly being used to save lives by people other than police, first responders, or emergency room staff. In fact, the demand for Narcan is such that Walgreens will now be stocking the treatment and selling it over-the-counter at its pharmacies.
Walgreens currently offers naloxone without requiring a prescription in 45 states, and says it’s “eager and willing” to work with the other five states to make naloxone easier to get.
“By stocking Narcan in all our pharmacies, we are making it easier for families and caregivers to help their loved ones by having it on hand in case it is needed,” said Rick Gates, Walgreens group vice president of pharmacy. “As a pharmacy we are committed to making Narcan more accessible in the communities we serve.”
Along with stocking over-the-counter Narcan, Walgreens says it’s adopting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to educate any patient who is given a controlled substance greater than an equivalent 50 milligrams of morphine on how to use the nasal spray in case of an accidental overdose.
Walgreens pharmacists will also be available to instruct patients on how to administer the medication on Narcan demo devices. However, Walgreens notes that caretakers or other helpers also call 9-1-1, because the treatment is not a substitute for medical care.
As we’ve unfortunately had to mention before, cheaper, more powerful strains of heroin available now have the potential to lead to more overdoses and related deaths. It’s such an issue that one Ohio city questioned whether or not to revive addicts who repeatedly overdose because of the cost of Narcan. In other areas, police officers, firefighters, and even librarians — have been learning how to treat overdoses they encounter.