Walgreens will now make available in 45 states across the U.S. a nasal spray called Narcan, which counteracts the effects of an opioid overdose, helping to save the overdose victim’s life, according to news reports and the pharmacy retailer chain.
CBS News reported that “dozens of Americans die everyday” from opioid overdoses. Recent arrests of high profile pharmaceutical industry executives is a signal that the government is finally stepping in to take some action during what is now being officially labeled a public health crisis and called an epidemic by some. The product will be stocked on shelves in all of its stores, more than 8,000 in all, according to the report. The chain of retail pharmacy stores released a public statement about the recent decision to stock an FDA-approved form of nalaxone, saying it is part of a larger national plan to commit to helping save lives and battle drug abuse in the communities where it does business.
This drug is also carried by emergency responders, especially in cities where overdose and abuse rate is high for opioids like heroin, oxycontin and fentanyl. The drug can save a life if administered right away. Many drug users and their family members are now buying it regularly, according to the report from CBS, who also reported that opioid overdoses now take an average of 91 lives in the U.S. each day. Drug overdose is now thein Americans below 50 years old, according to the same report. The Narcan spray will be available to purchase without a prescription.
The announcement from Walgreens came not long after President Donald Trump declared the opioid problem in America a national public health emergency and called it a “national shame”. National Public Radio, or NPR as it is widely known, has been an instrumental media outlet in covering the growing opioid problem. They reported that opioids kill more than 140 Americans per day. It is not clear how CBS arrived at 91 and NPR at 140 because neither revealed their source of data.
Both CBS and NPR pointed out that CVS, Walgreens’ major competitor, also carries Narcan in its stores. In a written statement, the CEO of Narcan maker Adapt Pharma, Seamus Mulligan, said it was an important move to make for the company, a “milestone”. He also said allowing people access to this drug without a prescription in that many states is “critical in combating this crisis.”
“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,” Rick Gates, Walgreens group vice president of pharmacy said. “As a pharmacy we are committed to making Narcan more accessible in the communities we serve.”
Walgreens released a statement about their decision their website. Part of their strategy also involves adopting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations by educating patients about Narcan when drugs with more than 50 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) and may be at risk of overdosing accidentally.