On Wednesday, CVS Health Corp the chain of drugstores said it would be expanding the access to the drug naloxone, which is an opioid overdose reversal treatment, to seven more states during the summer.
The program of the company to combat the epidemic of opioid overdosing will then operate in 30 states before August and make the drug, which is life-saving, accessible to those patients who do not have individual prescriptions.
CVS Health said that its program involving naloxone establishes an order that is standing with one physician in the state that will permit pharmacists from CVS to dispense the life-saving naloxone to patients that do not have a prescription.
The drugstore chain is already dispensing naloxone in 23 different states. The drug is used to reverse opioid and heroin overdoses and used by first responders.
This move to expand the access to the drug builds on the commitment at CVS Health to help the communities address and to prevent drug abuse via educations, safe medication disposal and outreach.
CVS Health has launched as well a program of community outreach known as Pharmacists Teach that is set up to bring pharmacists from the local community to health classes in high school to discuss with the students the different dangers of drug abuse.
A national drug control agency director said that expanding the access to the naloxone was a critical part of its national strategy to stop the heroin and prescription drug overdose epidemic that is killing people across the country.
In April, Walgreens announced that it made naloxone available in the state of Pennsylvania as a treatment sold over the counter for overdoses of heroin.
Overdoses of drugs have been a big problem in the United States despite strict legislation. In 2014, more than 47,000 people died from drug overdoses, shows data released by the Center for Disease Control. An increase of more than 2.8-fold in the number of deaths from overdoses from 2011 to 2014 has been recorded per data found at the CDC.
During early March, legislation that would address the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic across the U.S. cleared a Senate procedural hurdle easily.
The measure, which has the name CARA or Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, authorizes the U.S. Attorney General to give grants to help the national epidemics for both heroin use and abuse of prescription opioids.
This epidemic has grown quickly over the past three to five years due to the number of prescriptions written for opioids and easier access to heroin.