CVS announced it will add 12 states to its program to sell the opioid overdose antidote naloxone without a prescription, bringing the total to 14. The company already sells naloxone without a prescription in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
“Over 44,000 people die from accidental drug overdoses every year in the United States and most of those deaths are from opioids, including controlled substance pain medication and illegal drugs such as heroin,” Tom Davis, Vice President of Pharmacy Professional Practices at CVS, said in a statement. “Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses and by providing access to this medication in our pharmacies without a prescription in more states, we can help save lives.”
The states included in Wednesday’s announcement are Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. Pharmacy boards in these states can make decisions about offering naloxone without a prescription.
“While all 7,800 CVS/pharmacy stores nationwide can continue to order and dispense naloxone when a prescription is presented, we support expanding naloxone availability without a prescription and are reviewing opportunities to do so in other states,” Davis said.
Use of naloxone kits resulted in almost 27,000 drug overdose reversals between 1996 and 2014, according to a government study published earlier this year. Providing naloxone kits to laypersons reduces overdose deaths, is safe, and is cost-effective, the researchers noted.
“U.S. and international health organizations recommend providing naloxone kits to laypersons who might witness an opioid overdose; to patients in substance use treatment programs; to persons leaving prison and jail; and as a component of responsible opioid prescribing,” the researchers wrote in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.