Over the last few years, the dramatic surge in drug overdoses and deaths in the United States has caused a great deal of concern about lawmakers, law enforcement and citizens alike. In order to stem the tide of these overdoses, there have been significant actions taken on all front in order to help give addicts the help they desperately need and to minimize overdose deaths. Pharmacy giant CVS is doing its’ part in this effort by allowing its’ stores in 12 states to sell the overdose reversal drug Narcan without a prescription. This decision by CVS is helping to increase prevention efforts nationwide, and it is hoped that other pharmacy chains and smaller operations will follow suit.
What Is Narcan?
Also known as naloxone, Narcan is a non-addictive, non-toxic prescription medication that blocks the effects of opiates as well as opioids such as Oxycontin and Percocet. The drug is versatile in the fact that it can be administered in a number of ways such as nasally, intramuscularly, or through intravenous injection. It reverses the effects of an opiate or opioid overdose by essentially blocking those receptors that are targeted by heroin and many prescription painkillers. Narcan can even help reverse overdoses if people have other drugs in their system in addition to opiates such as heroin or prescription painkillers.
When a person who has overdosed is given a dose of Narcan, they should begin to breathe on their own and more normally and it will become easier to wake them. If the drug is administered, it is very important to seek help right away. Permanent brain damage can occur within only a few minutes of an overdose as the result of a lack of oxygen to the brain. By administering Narcan to someone who is experienced an overdose, it gives those who are helping the victim a window of opportunity to save a life by providing extra time to call 911, as well as carry out rescue breathing and first aid until emergency medical help arrives.
Where Is Narcan Available to People Without a Prescription?
Originally, CVS had allowed the non-prescription sale of Naloxone in the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island to help reduce the number of overdose deaths in those states. On September 23rd, CVS allowed 12 additional states to sell the drug without prescription. Those states include Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. What is interesting to note is that pharmacy boards in the above-mentioned states had previously been allowed to make decisions about offering naloxone without a prescription. This move is also being carried out by smaller independent pharmacies.
Attempting to Turn the Tide
The decision by CVS to make Narcan more widely available and without a prescription is a significant step and comes at a time where drug overdose death is reaching epidemic proportions. In an article that ran in the RT Times, there were 43,000 deaths in the United States due to drug overdoses. This means that 120 people die each day from overdoses, and of that number half of those are due to heroin or prescription medications. Not only is Narcan being made more available, there are many states that are providing more training and equipment to first aid personnel and law enforcement. Additionally, there are states who have enacted laws the protect pharmacies from criminal prosecution or civil liability.
While Narcan has proven to be an effective medicine to reverse overdoses and can save lives, the use of the drug also has its share of critics. Those opposed to the administration of Narcan feel that hat wide access to the drug could encourage risky drug use by giving users a way to “fix” an overdose. Additionally, the drug produces rapid and excruciating withdrawal symptoms when administered. While these facts are something to keep in mind, Narcan can be seen as an essential tool in helping those who overdose on opiates and prescription painkillers get the time they need to get help.
There has been increased vocal support from lawmakers to make Narcan available everywhere without a prescription. However, the Food and Drug Administration would only consider that step if Amphastar Pharmaceuticals–who is the manufacturer of Narcan–applied to the FDA to sell the drug without a prescription.
Learn More About Narcan Today
With the epidemic of heroin and prescription drug abuse and overdose. the use and availability of Narcan will increase and be the subject of great debate. If you want to learn more about Narcan and other medications which can help reduce overdose deaths, Recovery Hub is your go-to resource. We feature comprehensive and insightful articles that focus on all things related to addiction, intervention, and recovery. Additionally, our experienced staff can help you locate the best drug and alcohol treatment centers that best fit your unique needs.
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