Central Va. Pharmacies Stocking Up on Antidote for Opioid Overdose

Posted: Updated: Jan 03, 2017 08:23 PM
Naloxone bottle Naloxone bottle

Charlottesville area pharmacies are stocking up on what some are hailing as a “miracle drug." Naloxone, the generic name for the drug more commonly known as Narcan, is an antidote for opioid overdose. It can reverse overdoses in progress and save lives.

Previously, people needed a prescription to get the medication but not anymore. One month ago, Governor Terry McAuliffe issued a standing order for Naloxone, so anyone can buy it without a doctor's order.

First responders have long used Naloxone to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It's almost a turnaround within a minute of someone being unconscious, not breathing, to being awake talking to us normally, questioning what exactly happened,” Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad Assistant Chief Harrison Brookeman said.

But, now anyone can buy the drug without doctor's orders. “We have a standing order for it so we don't need a prescription from a doctor,” Kim Elliott, Wegmans pharmacist, said.

McAuliffe put that in place one month ago, when he declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

“I think it's a great thing, it provides access to people who might not normally have access to something that could save their lives,” Elliott said.

The drug costs about $165 for two doses, but most insurance companies will pay for it. CVS and Walgreens pharmacies in central Virginia also carry Naloxone, but it's not only in national chains.

“People don't even have to present a prescription, we can just use the state's (air quotes) prescription,” John Plantz, owner of Timberlake’s Pharmacy said.

Plantz has been a pharmacist since 1969. “I've never seen anything where we could give prescription medication out without a prescription in our hands,” Plantz said.

He says nobody has bought it yet, but they've only had it on the shelves for a few weeks, since that order came out. “’Cause we didn't know we should be stocking it until the state kind of commanded us to do so,” Plantz said. 

Naloxone isn't dangerous in the hands of an untrained bystander. It has no side effects if administered to someone who actually isn't experiencing an opioid overdose.

“It's almost like a why wouldn't you use it, it's not going to hurt them,” Brookeman said.

And as the number of opioid overdoses in central Virginia is still on the rise, first responders often use Naloxone to saves lives.

“If you give it to them, there's nothing but benefit,” Brookeman said.

Even though Naloxone does reverse the effects of an overdose, after using it, you should still call 911 and seek emergency medical attention.

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