YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – CVS is expanding its sales of a drug that reverses opioid overdoses.
Opioids include heroin and legal prescription pain medications such as oxycodone, which are addictive and commonly abused.
The drug, naloxone, is already available as Narcan without a prescription at CVS stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. A dozen more states, including Pennsylvania, will soon carry it, but Ohio is not on that list.
CVS reports more than 44,000 accidental drug overdoses take place in the U.S. every year. The company said making naloxone available is its way of doing something about that.
Stores in Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin will now have access to the drug.
In the local area, Hometown pharmacies are dispensing the drug without a prescription at stores in the following communities in Ohio and Pennsylvania:
- Poland: 1135 W. Western Reserve Rd. Located inside Sparkle Market
- Cornersburg: 3623 S. Meridian Rd. Located inside Sparkle Market
- Struthers: 655 Creed St.
- Brookfield: 7160 Sharon-Warren Road
- Columbiana: 1108 Village Plaza. Located inside Sparkle Market
- Girard: 906 N. State Street
- New Castle: 20 E. Lawrence St.
- Grove City: 49 Pine Grove Square. Located inside County Market
The Hometown dose comes with two shot injections in case the first one does not work. It is $60 and is covered by insurance.
A.J. Caraballo, pharmacy manager of Hometown Pharmacy on Meridian Road, said there is already interest in the drug.
“We’ve been getting a lot of phone calls. Some of the phone calls haven’t actually come in to get the medication, but people do know that it’s out there,” he said.
Although the drug can be obtained without a prescription, Caraballo said customers must go through the same training as medical professionals go through to use naloxone before they can buy it.
“We take the time to sit down with them, go over a pamphlet with them that shows them how to administer it, how to draw it up, when to use it,” he said. “We review rescue breathing with them, all of those things.”
Caraballo said he hopes as word spreads, more people looking for help with their addictions will come forward to get it.
Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene is skeptical, however. He said, while he believes more access could help save lives, he wonders if it might not lead to even more overdoses.
“Would this medication get purchased basically as a golden parachute to a user? As basically a life-time?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Ohioans can dispose of any unwanted, unneeded or expired prescription medications at hundreds of locations across the state from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, September 26, 2015.
The program is sponsored by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and was created to keep unused medications from being accidentally ingested, stolen, misused and abused.
“When prescription drugs, especially opiates, fall into the wrong hands, they can be extremely dangerous and even deadly,” said Attorney General DeWine. “That’s why we are urging Ohioans to take some time to sort through their medicine cabinets tonight and safely dispose of any unneeded medications at a nearby take-back location tomorrow.”
“This is a free, anonymous program. Turn in your unused, unwanted, unneeded medicine, no questions asked,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Timothy Plancon.
According to the DEA, nine previous nationwide Prescription Drug Take-Back Day events have removed more than 4,823,251 pounds, or 2,411 tons, of prescription drugs from circulation.
Only pills and other solid prescriptions, such as patches, can be disposed of at a collection site. Liquids and needles will not be accepted.