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Hy-Vee will now make naloxone, also known as narcan, available without a prescription in all of its pharmacies in Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and Wisconsin, in an effort to prevent opioid-related deaths. Naloxone is known to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and has no effect if opioids are absent.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, more than any year on record. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.
Opioid overdose is a national crisis, and naloxone is available at the pharmacies as a nasal spray, as well as in injection form by request.
“We know the availability of this medication has the potential to save lives,” said Kristin Williams, SVP and chief health officer at West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee. “It’s vital that we do everything we can to assist those with a loved one who may encounter an opioid overdose by combining medications or by accidentally taking too much of a medication, being unaware of the life-threatening result.”
Hy-Vee pharmacists will also ensure that patients and their family members understand how to recognize signs of an opioid overdose and how to administer the medication. Naloxone can be administered to any person who has overdosed on a wide range of opioids, including hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and codeine, as well as heroin.
Pharmacists in South Dakota and Missouri can dispense naloxone without a prescription through a physician-signed protocol with a designated pharmacy or pharmacy chain. The Iowa Board of Pharmacy and Wisconsin Pharmacy Examining Board have both implemented administrative rules outlining procedures and training requirements for participating pharmacies. Prior to these efforts, the only way for individuals to obtain naloxone in these states was through a doctor or other prescriber, followed by a trip to the pharmacy for the drug.