COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Two-thirds of Ohio’s retail pharmacies now offer the drug overdose antidote naloxone without a prescription, the state pharmacy board said Wednesday.
Giant Eagle and Rite Aid stores were recently added to the list, increasing the number to 1,374 pharmacies in 84 of Ohio’s 88 counties, the board said. The four counties not represented are Holmes, Morgan, Noble and Vinton counties.
State officials have pushed to expand access to the reversal drug to curb increasing overdoses and deaths attributed to heroin and stronger drugs, such as fentanyl. A law signed last year lets pharmacies distribute naloxone to at-risk opioid users or their relatives or friends without a prescription.
“Getting naloxone in the hands of individuals who can intervene in the event of an overdose is critical to reducing unintentional drug overdose deaths in Ohio,” the pharmacy board’s executive director, Steven Schierholt, said in a statement.
Naloxone, sometimes known by the brand name Narcan, can be administered before emergency responders arrive and isn’t harmful if a person hasn’t actually overdosed on heroin or prescription opiods.
The board is actively reaching out to and working with pharmacies that aren’t yet offering naloxone without a prescription, said Cameron McNamee, the board’s policy and communications director. Those include a variety of independent pharmacies and the one major chain still outstanding, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which would include pharmacies at Wal-Mart stores and Sams Clubs, McNamee said.