TOLEDO, Ohio — CVS Health plans to make the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone available without a prescription at all CVS/pharmacy stores in Ohio starting in late March.
CVS announced the measure Monday at a press conference in Toledo with Michael Botticelli, White House national drug control policy director; Mike DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general; John Tharp, Lucas County’s sheriff.
The move follows up an earlier efforts by CVS to broaden the availability of naloxone. Last September, CVS announced that it aimed to provide naloxone without a prescription at its stores in 12 more states. Then about a month later, in tandem with sweeping public- and private-sector drug abuse efforts unveiled by President Barack Obama, CVS said that in 2016 it aims to enable its stores to dispense naloxone without a prescription in an additional 20 states.
“Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses, and by expanding access to this medication in our Ohio pharmacies by the use of a physician’s standing order for patients without a prescription, we can help save lives,” Tom Davis, vice president of pharmacy professional practices at CVS/pharmacy, said in a statement. “We support expanding naloxone availability, and we applaud the state of Ohio for its leadership in the fight against drug abuse and addiction.”
At CVS drug stores, naloxone is currently available without a prescription in Arkansas, California, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.
“Today’s announcement builds on the commitment CVS Health made last October when President Obama announced new public- and private-sector actions to address prescription drug abuse and heroin use,” Botticelli stated. “Expanding access to the life-saving overdose-reversal drug naloxone is a critical part of our national strategy to stop the opioid overdose epidemic, along with effective enforcement, prevention and treatment.”
DeWine added, “By making naloxone available at their stores without an individual prescription, CVS pharmacies will be helping to put a life-saving tool in the hands of Ohioans who may have a family member or someone close to them suffering from an opiate addiction. Many of our first responders carry naloxone, but having it available on a wider basis could get help to someone who is overdosing even more quickly.”
CVS also is enabling Ohio law enforcement agencies to apply to receive a drug collection unit to help communities safely dispose of unwanted medications, including controlled substances. The company said that via the Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program, a joint effort of CVS and The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, more than 20 drug disposal units donated across Ohio have collected more than 4,000 pounds of unwanted medications since September 2014.
In the Toledo area, the Safer Communities program has donated drug collection units to the Ottawa Hills Police Department, the City of Oregon Police Department and the Lucas County Coroner’s Office.
“Saving the lives of our family, friends and neighbors is imperative and any tools to help combat the current heroin epidemic in our communities should be embraced,” Tharp commented.
CVS pharmacists, too, are pointing out the dangers of prescription drug abuse to high school students throug a community outreach program called Pharmacists Teach. Nationwide, more than 5,000 students have participated in the program, the company said.