Starting in March, CVS pharmacy locations in Ohio will begin offering a lifesaving heroin antidote without a prescription.
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is used by first-responders to revive people who have overdosed on heroin or opiates, NBC reports. EMS responders gave more than 15,000 doses of naloxone statewide in 2014.
“We know this is a daily thing,” Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Teresa Long told NBC. “Maybe six, seven, eight times a day our Columbus EMS are administering that, and that’s only if they get there and get to the place at the right time.”
As a result of its effectiveness, the drug is often sought by family members and loved ones of people with heroin addictions, for use in emergency situations.
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Those seeking the drug will be able to purchase it over the counter at select locations across the state, including CVS and AIDS Resource Center Ohio, which began offering naloxone without a prescription in September 2015. Since then, the pharmacy has sold over 80 doses of the drug, a move that ARC Ohio Chief Operating Officer Peggy Anderson believes has saved numerous lives.
“We’ve had parents who have lost their kids to an overdose saying they wish they had known or they wish they had access,” Anderson said.
According to a report from the CDC, Ohio had the second-highest number of drug-related deaths nationwide in 2014. The state lost 2,744 lives to drug overdose in that year -- which amounts to about one death every three hours.
The same report stated that the drug-overdose death-rate in Ohio had increased 18.3 percent from 2013, one of the greatest increases of any state.
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Many of these cases involve the use of heroin. According to a "60 Minutes" investigation conducted in 2015, use of the drug has spread to lucrative suburban areas, where drug dealers are able to target high-school students, college athletes, teachers and professionals willing to pay steep prices for the highly addictive drug.