Over-dose treatment drug available over the counter

A potentially life-saving drug, that can be used to reverse an overdose, is now available without a prescription at pharmacies across New York State.

This is the statement from CVS: "Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses. And by expanding access to this medication in our New York pharmacies by the use of a physician's standing order for patients without a prescription, we can help save lives”.

Recovering heroin addict Tatiana Green credits Naloxone also known as Narcan as one of the reasons why she's here today.

“April 19th, 2011 is my recovery date. So almost five years” Green said. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Opiate abuse has become a national epidemic and overdoses have quadrupled in the last decade. Now for the first time in history, New York State will be working with nearly 500 CVS pharmacies to provide Narcan to customers without a prescription.

“The bottom line is it's going to save lives period” Green said.

Narcan has been available to first responders in the form of a needle. Upon request, people can order it through a CVS pharmacy to be picked up the next day. It comes in an aerosol nose spray for $40-50. While it won't stop the addiction, Steve Chassman, with Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependance, says it's about risk reduction by regulating what could be a lethal dose of heroin.

His organization provides free Naloxone kits and training. He says having it available on a larger scale is a huge leap forward. He hopes other pharmacies will join in.

“If you're an active user or you have a loved one using, it's better to have and not need than need and not have” Chassman said.

According to statistics, last year in New York, 1500 users were revived with Narcan. While many are all for it being readily available, others question whether the quick fix could encourage drug use.

And while Tatiana no longer needs Narcan, she has her kit ready in case someone else does.

“They were never given Narcan and they died. They weren't go to get clean, right? They're dead. So if they live, there's a chance” Green said.

In a statement, CVS Health says Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses. Even though Narcan is available over-the-counter it's important to still get checked out by a professional after using it. 

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