CVS recently announced that its stores are expanding over-the-counter access to Naloxone in 12 states, widening its availability to 14 states overall.
The drug is a lifesaving antidote to opioid overdose, and it now can be bought without a prescription in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.
Tom Davis, vice president of pharmacy professional practices at CVS, said in a statement that "[n]aloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses and by providing access to this medication in our pharmacies without a prescription in more states, we can help save lives."
A CDC report from June verifies the drug's lifesaving status, pointing out that between 1996 and 2014 more than 26,000 overdoses were reversed after naloxone administration by lay people.
Some critics claim that the safety net, created by a wider availability of naloxone itself, gives opiate users a license to overdose, an argument similar to proponents of the life-saving HPV vaccine. However, many public health officials disagree, noting that the forced withdrawal initiated by naloxone is painful and is therefore unlikely to stimulate more opiate abuse.
The drug is not a cure for drug addiction, it merely prevents death from overdose.
Over 44,000 people die every year from a drug overdose, the majority of which are from opiates. Greater access to naloxone could save the allows of thousands of people each year and allow them to get the help they need.