SALT LAKE CITY -- A drug that can reverse heroin and other opioid overdoses is now available for over-the-counter purchase at some Utah grocery stores.
Associated Food Stores announced on Monday that more than 60 of its grocery stores across Utah will begin carrying Naloxone, also known by its brand-name Narcan. It will be distributed without a prescription to people who request it from a pharmacist.
"We have seen first-hand customers, patients, families that are impacted by these unintentional effects of opioids," said Denise Kunkel, Associated Food Stores' Pharmacy Operations Manager.
Naloxone has the ability to reverse the effects of a heroin or opioid overdose, if administered quickly enough. Associated Food Stores said it would make the drug available for patients 18 and older, but will require a patient consultation with a pharmacist and education before handing it over. Pharmacists may also screen higher-risk individuals, Kunkel said. Naloxone and generic versions of it will be available for between $50-70.
Kunkel said Associated Food Stores hopes to soon have all of its grocery store pharmacies offering the drug.
"It's really great news," said Dr. Jennifer Plumb, who advocates for Naloxone. "If you have these substances in your home, with a prescription or without, you really need to think about having Naloxone in your house to protect you or a loved one, should there be an overdose."
Utah is battling an opioid epidemic. The state ranks fifth highest in the nation for opioid-related deaths, about 21 a month. Recently, Governor Gary Herbert signed a series of bills aimed at combating painkiller and heroin abuse -- including needle exchanges and putting Naloxone in the hands of emergency responders to use.
Here's the list of Associated Food Stores carrying Naloxone over the counter:
Davis Food & Drug
Dick’s Market Centerville
Ephraim Market Fresh
Kent’s Market Brigham City
Kent’s Market Clearfield
Stewarts Basin Family Pharmacy