Lawmakers in New Jersey have been putting a higher priority on fighting the opioid addiction crisis in recent months.
Part of the plan is increased access to the drug Naloxone, used to reverse opioid overdose, and more stores are offering the antidote over-the-counter, no prescription needed.
First responders have been using the drug to save lives for a while now, but you don't need to wait for help to arrive before administering Naloxone, also known are Narcan if a person is overdosing on opioids.
ACME markets announced it will start selling the drug over the counter in 57 of its New Jersey locations.
Pharmacists say it's good to have the drug available for purchase, even though they haven't seen very many over the counter sales yet.
"The patient, the person who wants the medication, does not first have to go get their own prescription from a prescriber, be it a doctor, whatever and then come to a pharmacy to get it dispensed," said Phil Caruso, spokesperson for Walgreens Pharmacy.
Walgreens started issuing the drug over the counter a year ago.
Many chains say they do not keep stats on how many people are buying Narcan over the counter or coming in with a prescription.
"There's people who don't have a primary care provider or might be apprehensive to go to talk to their primary care provider about getting the product because of the stigma associated with it," said pharmacist, Jennifer McAleer.
The drug will be a small nasal spray.
There is no record kept on who purchases the drug, and the pharmacist trains and counsels the client.
"What to look for with opioid overdose and the timing in terms of giving the second dose, when would you need a second dose," added McAleer.
Workers say the drug is not only for those using heroin, but people who mistakenly overdose on prescribed opioids as well.
"Easier to obtain, to give somebody the opportunity to have it on hand in case it is needed," said Caruso.
The cost for two doses of Narcan runs about $150.
Stores operate under state guidelines. In New Jersey the law was signed in 2013 along with a clause that people calling 911 to report an overdose have immunity from prosecution of drug possession.
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