Chicago – Drug store chain Walgreens has announced that it will make heroin overdose antidote naloxone available without a prescription.

The company will launch a strategy program to combat prescription drug abuse by selling the antidote without needing a prescription in its pharmacies in 35 states in more than 5,800 stores.

Nowadays, heroin overdose-related deaths have increased rapidly by the growing of opioid epidemic. Even though some people may know about the existence of an antidote that may reverse the effects of the addicting drug, they would need prescriptions to be able to acquire it in pharmacies across the United States.

Photo: USA Today
Photo: USA Today

Health officials and pharmaceutical companies are taking actions to prevent deaths related to heroin overdose. Walgreens, on its side, announced it is joining the fight against prescription drug abuse with two new programs. First, making naloxone available without any prescription and second, installing 24 hours safe medication disposal kiosks in more than 500 drugstores across 39 states and Washington.

“Walgreens pharmacists play an important role in counseling patients on the safe use of their medications, and now we are leading the way in retail pharmacy’s fight against prescription drug abuse,” Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president of pharmacy and retail operations, says.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that during 2014, 6.5 million Americans misused a prescription drug. Most of them by giving it or take it from a family member or friend.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin overdose deaths have been increasing since 2007. Heroin deaths in 2014 exceeded 10,500, more than five times the rate occurring in 2002. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that every day 44 people in the U.S. die from prescription opioid overdose.

On the other hand, prescription opioid abuse costs billions of dollars. 46% in lost workplace productivity, 45% in health care costs and 9% in criminal justice expenses.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that naloxone, administered by injection or nasal spray, could prevent 20,000 overdose deaths in the United States.

CVS pharmacy has also made naloxone, as well as Narcan, a similar heroin overdose drug, available to customers without a prescription in states where it is legal to do so. Naloxone was already available in stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but they are now available in other states as Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Source: Fox News