New Jersey To Give Away Free Naloxone On June 18th

By Maggie Ethridge 06/12/19

The lifesaving medication will be available for free at select pharmacies in the state thanks to a new program. 

Photo via YouTube

New Jersey has launched a progressive initiative to combat the opioid epidemic. Naloxone, the opioid overdose reversing drug, will be available on June 18 for free through select New Jersey pharmacies.

The pilot program was created through the New Jersey Board of Pharmacy and includes a number of large chain pharmacies including Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS across New Jersey.

Naloxone, brand name Narcan, is a drug that can be given through injection or nasal spray. Naloxone binds to opioid receptors in the brain and reverses opioid overdose.

A large study looked at the possible benefits of Narcan availability in combating opioid overdose deaths.

The paper, published in Addictive Behaviors, found conclusive positive results, and read, “Naloxone access and Good Samaritan laws are associated with 14% and 15% reductions, respectively, in opioid overdose deaths. Among African-Americans, naloxone and Good Samaritan laws reduce opioid overdose deaths by 23% and 26% respectively. Neither of these harm reduction measures result in increases in non-medical opioid use.”

Not only did naloxone prevent many deaths, it did not have any unintended harmful side effects, such as increased opioid use. The study recommended that all opioid users, including those prescribed opioids for medical reasons, keep naloxone available at home.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is a staunch supporter of the new initiative. “The scourge of opioids continues to devastate families and communities across our state, and we must do everything we can to end the opioid epidemic,” said Murphy. “Through this initiative, people who are battling with addiction will be able to receive access to this critical medication and help them get on a path to recovery.”

When naloxone is made available for free on June 18th at select pharmacies, it will be given away on a first come, first serve basis, no appointment necessary.

The NJ Department of Health and the NJ Department of Human Services were recently granted $6 million for a program that will address overprescription of opioids in the medical community.

New Jersey had over 3,000 opioid overdose deaths last year.

“We are making the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone available for free on June 18 to help New Jerseyans have the tools they need to support their friends and loved ones and to give us every opportunity to save lives and connect people with opioid addiction to treatment,” said NJ Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson. 

To see a list of participating pharmacies click here.

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Maggie May Ethridge is the author of Atmospheric Disturbances: Scenes From a Marriage (Shebooks, 2014) and the recently completed novel, Agitate My Heart. She is a freelance writer published in Rolling Stone, VOX, Washington Post, The Guardian and many others. Find her at her blog Flux Capacitor or on LinkedIn or Twitter.