Three months after announcing it would expand access to the opioid antidote Narcan in Florida, select CVS stores are now selling the drug without a prescription.
The pharmacy giant announced in May that it would expand access in seven additional states, including Florida. Naloxone, the generic version of Narcan, is already available without a prescription at CVS pharmacies in 23 states. However, in Florida a prescription is still necessary.
CVS Health’s naloxone program establishes a standing order with a physician in the state, which permits CVS pharmacists to dispense naloxone to patients without a prescription.
Although CVS will offer both Narcan and the less expensive naloxone, some stores do not yet carry both. A two-dose package of the nasal spray purchased in West Palm Beach on Tuesday cost $126.45.
It’s a drug that needs to be on hand. If someone is overdosing, there won’t be enough time to run to the store and buy it.
“Expanding access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone is a critical part of our national strategy to stop the prescription drug and heroin overdose epidemic – along with effective prevention, treatment, and enforcement,” said Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy.
Although naloxone can quickly reverse an overdose — with people going from unconscious to walking and talking within seconds — the person must still be taken to an emergency room immediately. When the naloxone wears off, severe withdrawal symptoms often set in and the person may experience another overdose when the drug wears off.
“I am a firm believer all certified sober residences should have naloxone on board,” said John Lehman, president of the Florida Association of Recovery Residences, the Boca Raton-based non-profit that oversees voluntary certification of sober homes for the state.
Rebel Recovery Florida, the state chapter of the national non-profit Rebel Recovery, has conducted training in 10 treatment centers and 12 sober homes in Palm Beach County on how to use naloxone, said Justin Kunzelman, co-founder of the Florida chapter.