The opioid antidote naloxone will soon be available without a prescription at CVS pharmacies across Louisiana, the company announced Wednesday (May 25).
The move will dramatically increase access to the life-saving medication at a time when heroin and opioid overdoses in the United States are reaching all-time highs.
Naloxone may currently be purchased without a prescription at just two pharmacies in New Orleans: University Medical Center’s outpatient pharmacy at 2000 Canal St. and Crescent City Pharmacy at 2240 Simon Bolivar Ave.
Beginning in early June, every CVS in the city will carry it.
The pharmacy giant announced that it also will begin offering naloxone at stores in six other states this summer: New Mexico, Florida, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
The drug already is available without a prescription in 23 other states, Arkansas and Mississippi among them.
Legislation passed in August 2015 authorized pharmacies in Louisiana to dispense naloxone, with limited liability for those who prescribe it.
CVS will offer the antidote by establishing a standing order with a physician in the state. The physician will then write a blanket prescription letting pharmacists dispense naloxone to any patient who requests it.
“Expanding access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone is a critical part of our national strategy to stop the prescription drug and heroin overdose epidemic along with effective prevention, treatment, and enforcement,” Michael Botticelli, the federal government’s director of National Drug Control Policy, said in a statement on CVS’s website.
The news come shortly after Walgreens pharmacy announced it has expanded access to naloxone in Alabama.
The rival retailer said in February that it would make the drug available without a prescription in 35 states and Washington, D.C., in accordance with each state’s pharmacy regulations.