In a bid to help fight the opioid crisis, Walgreens has announced plans to sell a potentially life-saving drug that would reverse opioid overdoses.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, naloxone works by restoring normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped due to an overdose.
The CDC notes that the number of drug overdose deaths involving opioids has quadrupled since 1999, and the already-staggering rate is only continuing to climb. Despite the growing numbers, many aren't getting the treatment they need.
In addition to providing Narcan, Walgreens is also vowing to follow the CDC's advice to educate patients about the drug when they are dispensed a controlled substance greater than 50 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) and could be at risk of accidental overdose.
Walgreens is making the drug available to patients and caregivers without a prescription in 45 states, and hopes to continue expanding access. Pharmaceutical wholesaler AmerisourceBergen has also sent Narcan demo devices to Walgreens pharmacists for free for use in instructing patients on how to administer the medication.
According to NPR, Narcan costs $125, though insurance programs could offer lower prices.
"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 in a statement. "As a pharmacy we are committed to making Narcan more accessible in the communities we serve."
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