As President Donald Trump prepares to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency, customers will now be able to purchase a life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug in over 8,000 pharmacies across the nation.
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On Tuesday, Walgreens announced that it will begin carrying Naloxone (Narcan), a medicine that can rapidly reverse the effects of an overdose upon administration via nasal spray, for sale over-the-counter in all 45 states that allow it.
While the drug typically costs about $130 without insurance, the over-the-counter prices could be be around 25 percent lower, based on current price points and discounts for other pharmacies already carrying the drug.
Pharmaceutical wholesaler AmerisourceBergen has given Walgreens Narcan demonstration devices for free, providing them with the opportunity to show patients how to administer the medication.
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“By stocking Narcan in all our pharmacies, we are making it easier for families and caregivers to help their loved ones by having it on hand in case it is needed,” said Rick Gates, Walgreens group vice president of pharmacy, in a statement. “As a pharmacy we are committed to making Narcan more accessible in the communities we serve.”
ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton praised the decision on Thursday’s “Good Morning America,” saying, “This drug saves lives. Think of this maybe as defibrillator, EpiPen, another piece of lifesaving medical equipment that probably is going to be pretty widespread now.”
Speaking from personal experience, overdose survivor Nicholas Popinski said, “I’ve overdosed three times, and it’s saved my life three times. I had got the nasal spray Narcan, and I was at home one day and I had it on top of my fridge, and I did a lot of heroin. I did a few bags, and, you know, I was nodding off pretty bad, so my dad grabbed it and hit me with the Narcan.”
In this photo illustration, a package of NARCAN (Naloxone) nasal spray sits on the counter at a Walgreens pharmacy, August 9, 2017 in New York City. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in August that no-cost or low cost Naloxone (NARCAN), a drug that can help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, will be available at all pharmacies across New York state. (Photo Illustration by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)