Kroger Virginia pharmacies dispense opioid overdose medicine
Kroger said Monday that its 64 pharmacies in Virginia are making the opioid overdose reversal medicine Naloxone available without a prescription.
In response to a rising number of deaths, Virginia State Health Commissioner Marissa Levine declared the opioid addiction crisis a public health emergency in late November. Levine issued a standing order allowing all Virginians to obtain the drug Naloxone, which can be used to treat narcotic overdoses in emergency situations.
In Virginia, more people die from fatal opioid overdoses than fatal car accidents with the numbers for 2016 expected to be up by more than 77 percent compared to five years ago.
The rising death toll here is part of a larger epidemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It reported that 61 percent of U.S. drug overdose deaths in 2014 involved some type of opioid, resulting in nearly 29,000 deaths.
“Pharmacists play an important role in combating opioid addiction,” Caroline D. Juran, executive director of the Virginia Board of Pharmacy, said in a statement. “By allowing Naloxone to be safely and responsibly issued by pharmacists to anyone in Virginia, friends and family members of individuals struggling with addiction can take a much-needed step towards preventing overdoses of loved ones.”
Michelle Fountain of Kroger’s mid-Atlantic division based in Roanoke said the company has provided pharmacists with additional training and guidance on substance abuse. “We have produced educational materials for patients, and we now are prepared to dispense Naloxone. In this way, Kroger pharmacies will help make a life-saving tool available to those who have a family member or friend who suffers from an opiate addiction,” she said.
The cost to the patient varies with different insurance plans, the company said.
Kroger pharmacies are located in Hampton Roads, the Richmond region, the Roanoke Valley, Charlottesville, Lynchburg, the New River Valley, Abingdon, Bristol, Martinsville, Rocky Mount, Smith Mountain Lake, Clifton Forge, Lexington, Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg and Appomattox.