DEERFIELD, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As part of its comprehensive national plan to combat drug abuse, Walgreens today announced it has made naloxone, a potentially lifesaving opioid antidote, available without requiring a prescription from an individual’s physician in all of its Pennsylvania pharmacies in accordance with state pharmacy regulations.
Naloxone is now more accessible and easier to obtain in more than 120 Walgreens pharmacies throughout Pennsylvania. The medication can be used in the event of an overdose to reverse the effects of heroin or other opioid drugs, and is administered by injection or nasal spray.
“By making naloxone available without a prescription, we are making it easier for Pennsylvania families and caregivers to help their loved ones by having it on hand in case it’s needed,” said Kimberly Treece, Walgreens Regional Vice President in Pennsylvania. “As a pharmacy we are here to help people, and we are committed to making naloxone more accessible in the communities we serve.”
In February, Walgreens announced plans to make naloxone available without a prescription in 35 states and Washington D.C. in accordance with each state’s pharmacy regulations. In states where a prescription is required, Walgreens is available and eager to work with regulators to help update rules to allow for dispensing of naloxone without a prescription.
Since its original announcement about naloxone, Walgreens has made the medication available without a prescription at its pharmacies throughout the states of New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Indiana and Ohio, and has now expanded that access to Pennsylvania. When implementation of the program is complete, naloxone will be available without a prescription in more than 5,800 of Walgreens nearly 8,200 stores.
"I applaud Walgreens for taking this step. Naloxone is a lifesaving medication that can save the life of someone suffering addiction and an overdose from a prescription painkiller or heroin,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania Physician General. “The medication gives the patient the opportunity to get the treatment that they need. The disease of addiction is complex and the State's response requires all hands on deck, including our partners in the community, like Walgreens pharmacy."
Drug abuse continues to be a public health and safety risk. More Americans die every day from drug overdoses than from motor vehicle crashes, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a total of 47,055 drug overdose deaths, which include prescription and illicit drugs. That is a 6.5 percent increase from 2013 and a 140 percent increase since 2000.
Walgreens also will be installing safe medication disposal kiosks in more than 500 pharmacies in 40 states, including Pennsylvania. The medication disposal kiosks allow individuals to safely and conveniently dispose of their unwanted, unused or expired prescriptions, including controlled substances and over-the-counter medications, at no cost. The kiosks at Walgreens pharmacies will be available during regular pharmacy hours (24 hours a day at most of these locations) and will offer one of the best ways to ensure medications are not accidentally used or intentionally misused by someone else. The initial installation of the safe medication disposal kiosks has begun in California and is expected to be completed at more than 500 Walgreens locations later this year.
Walgreens (www.walgreens.com), one of the nation's largest drugstore chains, is included in the Retail Pharmacy USA Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (NASDAQ: WBA), the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise. More than 8 million customers interact with Walgreens each day in communities across America, using the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice. Walgreens operates 8,173 drugstores with a presence in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Walgreens digital business includes Walgreens.com, drugstore.com, Beauty.com, SkinStore.com and VisionDirect.com. Walgreens also manages more than 400 Healthcare Clinic and provider practice locations around the country.