One of the largest pharmacy chains in the United States will now carry the opioid overdose-reversing drug Narcan in its stores. Customers will be able to buy it without a prescription in 45 states, the company announced this week.
“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,” said Rick Gates, Walgreens group vice president of pharmacy, in a statement. “As a pharmacy we are committed to making Narcan more accessible in the communities we serve.”
Narcan was already available over-the-counter at Walgreens pharmacies in 33 states, including Florida.
Walgreens will carry an over-the-counter nasal spray form of the drug. Its pharmacists will instruct patients how to administer the medication.
Narcan is available without a prescription at CVS stores in 41 states, including Florida. In most communities, CVS has naloxone on hand and can dispense it the same day or ordered for the next business day.
Ashley Neal with the rehabilitation center Turning Point of Tampa said increased access to Narcan is part of the solution to the complex opioid epidemic.
"But it's not addressing the real problem that lies behind addiction," she said. "People need treatment to save their lives. Essentially it's a Band-Aid. Putting a Band-Aid on the problem. People are going back to the same environment, and they're not getting the help that they really need."
EMS crews have been carrying the drug for years, and now some police officers in Tampa Bay do too.
Walgreens has more than 8,000 pharmacies across the U.S.