In light of the recent surge in opioid-related deaths and overdoses across the United States, lawmakers and public health officials are looking for ways to intervene and prevent further loss of life.
One such measure can be seen in the state of Virginia, where it is now legal to obtain the drug overdose-reversal medication naloxone (commonly known as Narcan) at many CVS Pharmacy locations throughout the state. This drug can prove to be life-saving, and it is hoped that with greater ease of access, more people will have the ability to obtain this substance for themselves or a loved one.
According to Tom Davis, RPh, vice president of Pharmacy Professional Practices at CVS Pharmacy, “naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses, and by expanding access to this medication in our Virginia pharmacies by the use of a physician’s standing order for patients without a prescription, we can help save lives.”
Since drug overdose is the number one cause of accidental death in Virginia, new supports are necessary to combat the mounting death toll, and to educate the public on the dangerous effects of opioid abuse.
William Hazel, secretary for Virginia’s Health and Human Resources spoke recently of this alarming trend stating, “prescription opioid and heroin overdoses are killing our citizens, and we need to use every tool we can to fight that epidemic.”
A New Approach
First responders and emergency personnel have often carried overdose-reversing drugs like naloxone in the past, and while this approach has doubtlessly saved many lives, researchers have found that it is even more helpful for friends and loved ones to have easy access to these substances. This is due to the fact that friends and family members often have the ability to intervene in the case of an overdose, even before emergency medical personnel arrive on the scene.
But making drugs like naloxone more available is only a partial solution to the growing problem of opioid abuse in Virginia. Agencies in Galax, Virginia and across the state of Virginia must also continue to work with addictions professionals and treatment centers to educate the public about the dangers of opioid abuse.
Preventative education and quality opioid abuse treatment are just as necessary as medical intervention, and CVS is helping in these efforts as well. The large pharmacy chain has launched a website www.cvs.com/content/prescription-drug-abuse to give patients and families a digital resource to learn more about drug abuse prevention.
In many ways, the state of Virginia is at the forefront of rolling out preventative efforts to combat drug abuse. In addition to educational programs and increased naloxone access, Virginia recently piloted a new project called Revive! that is designed to train the public on how to properly use naloxone.
It is hoped that through these combined efforts, Virginians will have access to the type of medications and preventative education that will prevent loss of life due to drug overdose.