NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - CVS/pharmacy is getting on board the fight against the nationwide epidemic of prescription drug abuse.
CVS/pharmacy has expanded its availability of Naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medicine, to people who are not prescribed to it.
"Over 44,000 people die from accidental drug overdoses every year in the United States and most of those deaths are from opioids, including controlled substance pain medication and illegal drugs such as heroin," said Tom Davis, RPh, vice president of pharmacy professional practices at CVS/pharmacy in a recent press release. "Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses and by providing access to this medication in our pharmacies without a prescription in more states, we can help save lives."
Mike DeAngelis, CVS Health Senior Director, said Naloxone was already available without a prescription in a few states, but they are expanding their program to 20 other states including North Carolina in 2016.
DeAngelis said they expect to have Naloxone in place in North Carolina CVS/pharmacies by the end of March.
WECT has done several reports on the heroin issue in our area. Our In Vein Special, that aired in the fall of 2015, highlighted the growing epidemic that found its way to Southeastern North Carolina.
The Brunswick County Sheriff's Office said they are excited to hear CVS/pharmacy is offering Naloxone prescription free, and said they hope this gives families who have loved ones who are suffering from addiction piece of mind.
"Our hope is that a family member or loved one is equipped with this lifesaving tool," said Emily Flax, public information officer for the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office. "If they come home to find their loved one or friend who has overdosed on heroin unresponsive they will be able to use the Naloxone and save that life."
Flax said they hope the person whose life is saved by Naloxone will then take the steps to get treatment and put themselves on the path to recovery.
Robert Childs, Executive Director of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, said just in the past few months they have reversed over 150 drug overdoses in Wilmington with the help of Naloxone.
"The reason it is important for a community to have access to Naloxone, and for individuals who have potentially overdosed before, is to have another chance of life," said Childs "That is somebody's kid and that is somebody's parent, everybody deserves a second chance on life."
Childs said he encourages anyone who has a family member, or loved one, who uses drugs or uses prescription drugs off label to get Naloxone. He said when it comes to reversing an overdose every minute matters.
"It helps decrease the potential of somebody going into respiratory failure and potentially being exposed to brain damage while EMS is heading to the scene," he explained. "So it's a great tool to work within conjunction with the great emergency services we already have in this community."
CVS Health officials said the cost of the over the counter naloxone can range from $40-$50.
Childs said if anyone can not afford that amount to contact him and he will get you a Naloxone Kit for free.
Click HERE for his contact information and more on the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition efforts.