Advocacy Groups and Pharmacists See Hope of Raising Awareness of Heroin Crisis in DeBlasio’s New Pilot Program.

Pharmacists and advocacy groups are working alike in the selling of Naloxone (NARCAN) without prescription in response to NY State’s heroin cirsis. Mayor DeBlasio’s pilot program with pharmacies like CVS and Duane Reade are selling Naloxone over the counter without a prescription in response to heroin overdoses having “nearly quadrupled from 2002 to 2013.” (Seele,NY Times).

Corporations such as CVS were more than adamant in taking a stand in preventing overdoses in selling the “Overdose Reversal” as medical professionals are calling it. Still, this is not a cure to addiction. Because of the drug’s nature, CVS offers mental health/rehabilitation pamphlets for the consumer’s use in hopes of doing more than reversing an overdose.

Kimberly Lant, CVS pharmacist manager, says “we have not dispersed any units of Naloxone since this program started. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not because we want people to know about this and if it helps save lives we’re going to do what we can.” Lant went on to offer me pamphlets and directive material on how to dispense the drug and its accessibility. The need for a program and product such as this is startling and symptomatic of something not being discussed that needs to be. The Duane Reade pharmacist manager I spoke with, due to corporate policy she could not give her name, compared the drug to the morning after pill. She said “I’m on the fence about this program. I think people are going to misuse and misinterpret the point of the drug.” I spoke to two different Duane Reade pharmacist managers, one from Staten Island and one from lower Manhattan, and they offered limited information. Both locations had not dispersed any units of the drug.

Local pharmacies are not involved in the pilot program of selling NARCAN over the counter.The South Shore pharmacy of Staten Island is not taking part of the program in saying that “corporations like RITE AID are selling Naloxone without a prescription. We hope that we will not have to resort to that” said the manager of the pharmacy. After speaking with this pharmacy I consulted RITE AID’s pharmacy manager in seeking information about how many units they may have sold. Unfortunately, the location I chose would not disclose information considering too intimate and confidential. Surprisingly, they told me that a local pharmacy on Staten Island is selling NARCAN over the counter without proper sanction because of how epidemic heroin usage has gotten across the state.

Delco, the pharmacy RITE AID’S manager referred me to, refused to disclose information as to how many units of Naloxone that have been given with or without prescription. Those working at this pharmacy said that the manager might not want to discuss such information — which is exactly what happened.

In hopes of halting the rising number of overdoses in the state of NY, NARCAN has been dispersed (free of charge) by support groups such as: Addiction Angel and NA (Narcotics Anonymous.) Alicia Reddy, coordinator of Addiction Angel via phone interview says“We are not just reversing overdoses by giving out this drug. We are working to create awareness that addiction does not end after an overdose. As a community we are working to help those afflicted with addiction whether a person is an addict or a family member that needs resources.”

Advocacy groups and Pharmacies agree, there needs to be more attention and coverage paid to this rising crisis. Lower Manhattan’s Duane Reade pharmacist says “I would love to get involved and help people that suffer with addiction. People don’t get that drugs talk to you. And people are afraid to talk about that.” After she said this, the pharmacist shared that her father continues to battle “demons like this.”