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October 04, 2015

CVS offers anti-overdose drug without prescription in New Jersey

Narcan availability increases in New Jersey amid surge in opioid abuse

The lifesaving anti-overdose drug hailed as a major breakthrough in countering the growing U.S. heroin epidemic is now available to customers at CVS locations in New Jersey without a prescription.

Naloxone, administered as a nasal spray, reverses the effects of overdoses from heroin and other opioids that cause a depression of the central nervous system, slowing down or stopping a victim from breathing. The drug has a stronger affinity to opioid receptors, temporarily knocking the opioids off the receptors and enabling victims to regain consciousness and breathe again.

According to, CVS/Pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Health, has expanded the number of states in which Naloxone -- sold as Narcan -- is available to the public without a prescription. New Jersey is among 12 additional states included in the expansion.

Every year, more than 44,000 people die from accidental drug overdoses in the United States, most of which are opioid-related. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show the rate of heroin overdose deaths in the U.S. has nearly tripled since 2010. New Jersey's deaths from opioid overdose are more than triple the national rate, according to a recent analysis by NJ Advance Media.

The announcement from CVS comes as cities around the U.S. grapple with the rising price of naloxone, which climbed to nearly $40 a dose in Baltimore, according to NPR.

First approved by the Food & Drug Administration in 1971 as an injectable medication for use in hospitals, naloxone has increasingly become a tool for law enforcement officers who have been trained and equipped to use it in emergencies.

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