CVS Health has announced that CVS Pharmacy locations in four additional states will dispense the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone to patients without an individual prescription.
WOONSOCKET, R.I., March 9, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) announced today that CVS Pharmacy locations in four additional states will dispense the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone to patients without an individual prescription. With the addition of CVS Pharmacy locations in Arizona, Georgia, Iowa and South Carolina, CVS Pharmacy locations in 41 states are now able to increase access to the life-saving medication. Georgia, Iowa and South Carolina all allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone under a standing order from a physician. Arizona regulations give pharmacists prescriptive authority to dispense the medication.
"CVS Health is committed to addressing and preventing opioid abuse in the communities we serve and increasing access to this life-saving medication is an important part of that commitment," said Tom Davis, RPh, Vice President of Pharmacy Professional Practices at CVS Pharmacy. "Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdose and by expanding availability of this medication, we can save lives and give more people a chance to get the help they need for recovery."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids including prescription opioids and heroin killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, more than any year on record. At the same time, a recent CVS Health/Morning Consult survey indicates there is a significant need for increased awareness about the availability of naloxone and its role in reversing potentially fatal opioid overdoses. Less than half (46%) of those surveyed said that they had heard of the drug, and awareness varied significantly by geographic region. In the western and southern parts of the country 38 percent and 40 percent of respondents, respectively, had heard of naloxone compared to 50 percent in the Midwest and 63 percent in the Northeast.
"Overuse and abuse of opioids is a public health epidemic," said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association. "Making naloxone more widely available and accessible is a critical component of a broader strategy to prevent overdose deaths. I applaud CVS Health for its leadership."
CVS Health's work to expand access to naloxone builds on the company's longstanding commitment to preventing prescription drug abuse. The company's efforts to educate patients extend from resources on CVS.com to educating youth in the community. The company's Pharmacists Teach program, which connects CVS pharmacists to local high school students, has reached more than 200,000 students across the country with a drug abuse prevention message. The company has also worked to encourage proper disposal of medications to prevent misuse or abuse. Through its Medication Disposal for Safer Communities program, CVS Health has donated more than 600 disposal units to local police departments, which have collected more than 70 metric tons of unwanted medication.
With the addition of these four states, CVS Pharmacy now dispenses naloxone to patients without an individual prescription in these 41 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.