The drug chain said Monday that naloxone is now easier to obtain in its more than 120 drug stores across Pennsylvania. Administered by injection or nasal spray, the medication can be used in the event of an overdose to reverse the effects of heroin or other opioid drugs.
“By making naloxone available without a prescription, we are making it easier for Pennsylvania families and caregivers to help their loved ones by having it on hand in case it’s needed,” Kimberly Treece, Pennsylvania regional vice president for Walgreens, said in a statement. “As a pharmacy we are here to help people, and we are committed to making naloxone more accessible in the communities we serve.”
The move continues Walgreens’ efforts to combat drug abuse. In early February, the chain announced plans to make naloxone available without a prescription in 35 states and Washington, D.C. When that initiative is completed, Walgreens said, naloxone will be available without a script in more than 5,800 of its approximately 8,200 stores.
Most recently, Walgreens had announced expanded access to naloxone at its pharmacies in Indiana and Ohio, covering more than 400 stores. The drug chain also has made the medication available without a prescription at its pharmacies throughout New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Walgreens added that, in states where a prescription is required for naloxone, it will work with regulators to help update rules to allow for the dispensing of the overdose drug without a prescription.
“I applaud Walgreens for taking this step. Naloxone is a lifesaving medication that can save the life of someone suffering addiction and an overdose from a prescription painkiller or heroin,” stated Rachel Levine, physician general of Pennsylvania. “The medication gives the patient the opportunity to get the treatment that they need. The disease of addiction is complex, and the state’s response requires all hands on deck, including our partners in the community, like Walgreens pharmacy.”
Walgreens also plans to install medication disposal kiosks in more than 500 pharmacies in 40 states, including Pennsylvania. The kiosks enable customers to safely and conveniently dispose of their unwanted, unused or expired prescriptions, including controlled substances and over-the-counter medications, at no cost.
The pharmacy chain said the initial installation of the medication disposal kiosks has started in California and is slated to be completed at more than 500 stores later this year.