The overdose antidote naloxone is becoming easier to buy around the country, the Associated Press reports. Most states have passed laws allowing people to buy naloxone without a prescription.
Drugstores and other retailers are also making it more easily available.
Until recently, naloxone, sold as Narcan, was available mostly through clinics, hospitals or paramedics and other first responders.
“This saves lives, doesn’t seem to have any negative impact that we can identify, therefore it should be available,” said Dr. Corey Waller of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Target and Wal-Mart have made it easier to access naloxone through their pharmacies in many states, or are planning to do so, the article notes. The grocery chain Kroger sells naloxone without requiring a prescription in a few states.
Naloxone has received attention recently after news reports that Prince was rescued from an overdose of the painkiller Percocet with naloxone six days before he died. In April, Prince’s private jet made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois after he became unresponsive. City records show emergency responders rushed him to the hospital, where he was treated with a shot of naloxone. He stayed in the hospital for a few hours and flew back home.
When a person takes prescription opioids in excessive amounts, the drugs can suppress breathing. Naloxone usually restores breathing within minutes. It begins to wear off after 30 minutes, and may be gone from a person’s system after 90 minutes.
“You can’t treat it like an over-the-counter decongestant,” said John Beckner, a pharmacist with the National Community Pharmacists Association, a trade group for independent pharmacies. “It’s a powerful drug product that’s going to require some instruction on how to use it.