Walgreens 'Selling to Heroin Users'? Yes, to Save Their Lives

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Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 1.49.33 PMA stupid article on MorningTicker.com is barely worth commenting on. But its apparent premise is so accusatory and obnoxious that it was worth a quick mention anyhow. Here, look:

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Between the title, photo, and caption you would think that the Walgreens board of directors was part of a Columbian drug cartel. "Ooh! Those awful people are making a bunch of money by taking advantage of helpless addicts."

Next there is this:

"Heroin users take note: Walgreens has something for you."

What? A place to score some "H"? A piece of rubber tubing?

If you bother to read the rest of the story, it actually gets around to telling the truth, but exactly why were the sensationalist and misleading headlines (and photo) there to begin with? You'll have to ask whoever wrote it.

The real reason, of course, is to save addicts' lives. Walgreens is selling naloxone -- the only antidote that is used for opioid overdose -- over the counter. Naloxone saves lives, and does so very quickly. The potentially fatal effects of an overdose of an opioid like heroin are relieved in minutes. Walgreens plans to eventually make the antidote available in 5,800 stores. It is available as an injection or nasal spray.

It is quite a remarkable drug; both safe and effective. If you happen to take it even without any narcotics in your system, it will do nothing. This is because it binds so tightly to the opioid receptors that it actually displaces the heroin, oxycodone, etc. from those receptors, where they were in the process of stopping you from breathing.

The following graphic shows how this works:

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Naloxone binds more tightly to opioid receptors than the opioid drugs.

Naloxone and Overdose Prevention Education Program of Rhode Island