Walgreens Pharmacies nationwide are set to carry naloxone (name brand Narcan), an opioid overdose antidote. The announcement came this week, amongst the many headlines surround the public health emergency that is the opioid epidemic.
“This effort, combined with the opportunity for patients and caregivers to obtain Narcan Nasal Spray without an individual prescription in 45 states, is critical in combating this crisis,” said Adapt Pharma CEO Seamus Mulligan. Adapt produces Narcan, and will supply Walgreens with the product.
Over 8,000 Walgreens pharmacies are located nationwide; Narcan will be available at all locations.
With more than 33,000 deadly opioid overdoses in 2015 alone, the nation has remained on edge in its struggle to combat the overwhelming nature of the opioid epidemic. With so many synthetic compounds and the sheer number of addicted individuals continuing to rise, the availability of treatment has become more important than ever before.
Naloxone earned its patent in 1961, before being approved by the FDA for usage in the event of an opioid overdose ten years later. Since then, and particularly in light of the rising opioid crisis, naloxone has been supplied to emergency response teams to revive those that have suffered an opioid overdose.
Available in an injection form and a nasal spray, naloxone works quickly to block the body’s response to an opioid overdose. When used in enough time, naloxone can save a person’s life.
Walgreens vice president Rick Gates believes that making Narcan more available to the public will benefit families and individuals that are in need. “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,” he said.
CVS Pharmacy also announced last month that it would also make naloxone available to customers without a prescription in 41 states, according to its site.
Through making Narcan available at local pharmacies, individuals will have greater access to the antidote. For caregivers and family members who may live with an individual at risk, the availability of naloxone in the home could make all the difference.
While naloxone does not combat the opioid crisis on its own, it is important in combatting the cycle of relapse that often exists in overcoming addiction. As a nation, we have a long road ahead of us in this epidemic, though making resources more available to people who need them is a crucial step, in addition to addiction treatment and public health education.
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