On the heels of an announcement that 68 Scioto County residents were saved by the opioid overdose reversal medicine Naloxone, comes an announcement that the Kroger Company Columbus division, will make Naloxone available without a prescription at its 112 pharmacies in Ohio beginning Wednesday, Feb. 17. By that date, Naloxone will also be available in the 84 pharmacies in Kroger’s Cincinnati/Dayton division, one pharmacy in its Central division and three pharmacies in its Mid-Atlantic division – for a total of 200 Kroger pharmacies across Ohio.
Last week, the national chain, CVS made a similar announcement, prompting reaction from Lisa Roberts RN, of the Portsmouth City Health Department.
“There is a national effort to get Naloxone to be more available to anybody that may need it,” Roberts said. “The reason of course for that is that the entire country is in the midst of this terrible opioid epidemic that was ushered in by pain medication.”
Kroger officials are responding to a definite need in communities around the state.
“Unfortunately, Ohio and Kentucky rank in the top five when it comes to the highest overdose death rate according to the Centers for Disease Control. Kroger wants to help reverse this horrible statistic,” Jeff Talbot, vice president of Merchandising for Kroger, Cincinnati/Dayton division, said. “We want families dealing with addiction to know that they can count on having this drug available in the event that they need it.”
Kroger has been working with University of Cincinnati Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine Dr. Shawn Ryan in developing a protocol and processes for dispensing Naloxone without a prescription in Ohio.
“Pharmacists must follow regulations and procedures to dispense Naloxone,” Ryan said. “It’s critical that pharmacists be able to educate families and friends of loved ones suffering from addiction on how to handle and administer Naloxone if needed. I highly commend Kroger for taking this step to help with the opiate addiction crisis.”
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, said while many first responders carry Naloxone, having it available on a wider basis will no doubt help save lives.
“By increasing access to the life-saving drug Naloxone, we can help bring more people back from the grips of overdoses,” U.S. Senator Rob Portman said. “This marks an important step in our fight to combat addiction and we all need to continue to work for a bottom-up, comprehensive approach to the heroin epidemic.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.