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Iowa and Missouri Hy-Vee pharmacies now offering naloxone without prescription

File photo.

To assist in the national crisis concerning opioid overdoses, Hy-Vee, Inc., announced last week that it now offers naloxone to customers without a prescription in four of the eight states where it has pharmacies.

All Hy-Vee pharmacy locations in Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and Wisconsin offer naloxone without a prescription. The effort is meant to help prevent opioid-related deaths.

While naloxone is known to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, the medication has no effect if opioids are absent.

“We know the availability of this medication has the potential to save lives,” said Kristin Williams, senior vice president and chief health officer at Hy-Vee. “It’s vital that we do everything we can to assist those with a loved one who may encounter an opioid overdose by combining medications or by accidentally taking too much of a medication, being unaware of the life-threatening result.”

Naloxone is available at Hy-Vee pharmacies in nasal spray, as well as injection form by request.

Hy-Vee pharmacists will also ensure that patients and their family members understand how to recognize signs of an opioid overdose and how to administer the medication. While naloxone is not a cure for an opioid overdose, it can assist an individual until emergency treatment is available and long-term treatment is provided.

Naloxone can be administered to any person who has overdosed on a wide range of opioids, including hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and codeine, as well as heroin.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, more than any year on record. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.

Pharmacists in South Dakota and Missouri can dispense naloxone without a prescription through a physician-signed protocol with a designated pharmacy or pharmacy chain.

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy and Wisconsin Pharmacy Examining Board have both implemented administrative rules outlining procedures and training requirements for participating pharmacies.

Prior to these efforts in these states, the only way for individuals to obtain naloxone was through their doctor or other prescriber, followed by a trip to the pharmacy for the drug.

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