Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is making the opioid antidote naloxone available without a prescription in all its pharmacies in New Mexico, part of a plan to make the drug readily available in 35 states and Washington D.C., by the end of this year.The drugstore chain has already made naloxone available without a prescription in Alabama, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
In March, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez signed a bill into law that expands access to naloxone, allowing it to be available in more than 70 Walgreens pharmacies throughout the state. The law also protects those who administer naloxone from civil liability and criminal prosecution.
California is one of the states that will be served with this program by Walgreens by the end of the year.
“Walgreens’ expansion of medications access in northern New Mexico and throughout the state will make it easier for families to help their loved ones suffering from addiction,” said Richard Martinez, a Democratic member of the state Senate.
Naloxone, administered by injection or nasal spray, can be used in the event of an overdose to reverse the effects of heroin and other opioid drugs. The Obama administration has been funding expanded distribution of naloxone amid a growing epidemic of addiction to opioid drugs in the United States.
In 2014, a record number of Americans died from drug overdoses. New Mexico had one of the highest rates of overdose deaths, along with West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Ohio. Approximately 78 people die in the United States every day due to drug overdose, with half of those deaths related to prescription opioid pain medications, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We want to make sure that we work together with all the states in accordance with each state’s pharmacy regulations and make this life saving drug available to all,” a representative of Walgreens said.
Walgreens also provides a safe method to dispose of unwanted medications. The medication disposal kiosks allow individuals to safely and conveniently dispose of their unwanted, unused or expired prescriptions, including controlled substances, and over-the-counter medications, at no cost.
The kiosks at Walgreens pharmacies will be available during regular pharmacy hours (24 hours a day at most of these locations) and will offer one of the best ways to ensure medications are not accidentally used or intentionally misused by someone else. The initial installation of the safe medication disposal kiosks has begun in California and is expected to be completed at more than 500 Walgreens locations this year.