NY pharmacy chain to sell drug that reverses heroin overdose without prescription

© David Ryder
In an effort to combat a growing epidemic of heroin and opioid overdoses, the CVS pharmacy chain will begin selling an anti-overdose drug called naloxone in the state of New York without prescription.

The state officially authorized CVS to sell the drug at all 479 stores in New York over-the-counter, Syracuse.com reported.

“We support expanding Naloxone availability and we applaud the state of New York for its leadership in the fight against drug abuse and addiction,” said Tom Davis, a CVS vice president, to Syracuse.

Naloxone, which can be delivered to an individual either intravenously or through a nose spray, works by halting the effects of heroin or prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin. It starts to take effect within a few minutes, giving those who have overdosed a chance to regain consciousness, while giving emergency responders and medical teams extra time to treat patients.

While naloxone has been shown to save lives, those who take it could still be at risk if they do not seek immediate medical help before the drug’s effects dissipate.

Meanwhile, the New York State Health Department said that people won’t be at risk of abusing naloxone itself, since it is only active when an individual has opioids in their system, the Associated Press reported.

The expansion of naloxone into CVS stores is also noteworthy since the federal government has been working to outfit more emergency responders with the drug in order to more effectively combat overdoses.

READ MORE: ‘Alarming’ drug overdose deaths in US hit record high of over 47,000 – CDC

In September of 2015, President Barack Obama said federal agencies would start training their health care providers on the potential dangers involved in painkiller prescriptions. Obama also told the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to invest $8.5 billion in opioid addiction prevention.

The problem of prescription painkiller abuse has taken on new import in the US, particularly since a new study revealed that 91 percent of people surviving opioid overdose end up being prescribed more opioids.

According to the CDC, more than 47,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2014, an increase of almost 7 percent compared to the year before.