Kroger stores in West Virginia are now selling naloxone, an opioid reversal drug, without a prescription. On Monday, officials from Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic Division announced that the drug would be available over the counter at 34 Kroger pharmacies.
West Virginia is not the first state where Kroger has made the overdose medicine available. Kroger pharmacies in Kentucky and Ohio have been selling the life-saving medicine without a prescription since 2016, reports Metro News. The West Virginia Legislature passed a law that allows pharmacies to sell naloxone without a prescription in early 2016.
The life-saving drug was made available in West Virginia because it has the highest death rate due to drugs overdoses in the U.S. Statistics show that West Virginia saw 41.5 deaths per 100,000 population in 2015. Those numbers are twice the national average.
Kroger’s isn’t the only pharmacy in West Virginia that has made the opioid reversing drug available over the counter. CVS, Walgreens, and Fruith Pharmacy also offer the drug without a prescription, reports WHSV.
Michele Fountain, Kroger’s pharmacy clinical sales manager, says that Kroger pharmacies have made the life-saving medicine available to individuals who have family or friends struggling with opiate addictions. She also added that naloxone can also be a preventive measure for patients who take opiates to manage pain.
The Kroger pharmacies must dispense the drug as they would fill any type of prescription. It must be dispensed by a pharmacist and the pharmacy must provide the buyer with medical information and treatment options. Individuals purchasing naloxone cannot wave the pharmacist consultation like they can when purchasing other drugs, reports the Herald-Dispatch.
Shannon Gooden, a clinical pharmacist for Kroger, states that it is the company’s hope that people will purchase the life-saving drug for preventative use. She adds that the West Virginia legislation also called for the Board of Pharmacy and the Bureau of Public Health to develop new protocols for counseling patients, as well as creating educational materials through the state’s Controlled Substance Monitoring Program.
Gooden shares that the educational material associated with naloxone includes how to properly administer it and how to recognize the signs and symptoms of an overdose. Though the opioid reversing drug is now available as an over the counter drug without a prescription, it will still be kept behind pharmacy counters.
Gooden explains that if an individual wants to purchase naloxone they begin the process by going to the pharmacist. She adds that it may take a little longer that an ordinary prescription, but that is due to the required educational information the pharmacist must share with the buyer.
Gooden stresses that naloxone is easy to use and can save the life of an individual who has overdosed. However, it is not a substitute for emergency care.
By Tammy Marie Rose
Photo Courtesy Google Earth