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January 23, 2017 06:24 PM

Pharmacies Join Battle Against Opioid Epidemic

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental deaths in the US with over 5,500 deaths in 2015 alone.

"In 2015, more than 40 people alone in South Dakota died because of an accidental overdose," Avera vice president of the Behavioral Health Clinic Dr. Matthew Stanley said.

On Monday morning, Stanley and Hy-Vee pharmacist Justin Manning announced a partnership between the hospital and supermarket chain to save lives and bring South Dakota to the forefront of the fight against the opioid epidemic.

"As of February 1, Avera and Hyvee pharmacies will begin providing the drug naloxone without a prescription," Stanley said.

The prescription medication naloxone helps reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. While medical emergency professionals have carried the drug for decades, 28 states equipped law enforcement with the drug last year.

"You can come to the pharmacy, and like getting the flu shot, you've got to fill out a consent form and then we dispense that medication to that patient," Manning said.

Narcan, the nasal spray form of the drug will be available for purchase by a patient or a family member of someone using opioids.

According to some, insurance companies may cover the drug. If you have a co-pay and your provider covers the drug under your plan, you may only pay 10 to 20 dollars out of pocket. If it's not covered by your insurance plan, you may be looking to pay at least $200.

"Manufacturers have rebate programs or coupon programs that you can use and savings cards and things like that to help get access to the medication as well." said Manning

Stanley says the goal is to use naloxone like an Epipen. They are hoping people will be pro-active rather than reactive and prevent anymore deaths from opioid abuse.
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