Walgreens rolls out prescription-free naloxone campaign amidst growing concerns that prescription drug addiction becomes a nationwide epidemic.
Prescription drug abuse, particularly opioid drugs abuse caught everyone’s attention lately. During their presidential campaigns, candidates turned the volume of the debate up a notch. Before the primary held in New Hampshire, all presidential candidates took their time discussing the state’s prescription drug abuse problem. However, New Hampshire is just one example mirroring a nationwide problem.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that 44 U.S. residents day each day due to prescription drug abuse. Opioid overdose is a serious cause for concern. In addition to an increased mortality rate, opioid drugs abuse results in financial losses at the federal level too. One analysis indicates that opioid drugs abuse results in 45 percent more in health care costs, 9 percent more criminal justice costs and 46 percent less productivity at the workplace.
Against this background, Walgreens rolls out a prescription-free naloxone campaign starting with New York and planning to expand nation-wide. For the past two decades, companies active in the pharma sector have aggressively marketed opioid drugs for pain relief. As a result, physicians have also played a role in driving the prescription drug addiction to new heights.
Over-the-counter naloxone could prove the most efficient tool to fight the growing prescription drug abuse epidemic. Walgreens already introduced the program in New York. The plan is to introduce over-the-counter naloxone in over half of the company’s locations nationwide. The next targets are Ohio and Indiana. Here, prescription-free naloxone will be handed beginning late February.
The World Health Organization believes that naloxone has the potential to prevent 20,000 deaths due to opioid drugs overdose in the U.S. As such, over-the-counter naloxone may prove an effective measure against prescription drug addiction and abuse. Walgreens isn’t the only company aiming to offer prescription-free naloxone. CVS also established a similar program in states where it’s possible to offer naloxone and Narcan without prescription.
According to the CDC, deaths due to opioid drugs overdose reached a high in 2014. Driven by prescription drug addiction in addition to heroin, this trend is alarming. However, Walgreens rolls out prescription-free naloxone campaign with the aim to make over-the-counter naloxone available in its 24-hour locations.
This means over 500 locations spanning 39 states will see a gradual implementation of the program. The next step according to Walgreens is to expand the prescription-free naloxone to over half of the company’s U.S.-wide locations.
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