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CVS to sell overdose antidote over-the-counter

WBFO News File Photo

With increasing concern about the rising number of heroin overdoses, Albany has cut a deal with CVS pharmacies to make the heroin antidote Naloxone available over-the-counter.

Across the world of first responders, Naloxone, also known as Narcan, has become a key tool. When responders come upon someone in a drug overdose, the drug is a life saver.

Some drug users apparently carry it with them in case they or a friend overdoses. In some cases, first responders have saved someone from an overdose twice in one day.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein says the over-the-counter arrangement is a good thing.

"We need to be able to get out naloxone into our community," says Burstein. "We have so many people that we see are experiencing drug overdoses and overdose deaths and we really want to be able to prevent these deaths. So, naloxone is an antidote for opioid overdoses and it wakes people up."

State Health Commissioner Doctor Howard Zucker says the deal with CVS will save lives and hopefully get them on the road to recovery. Burstein says the problem is that there aren't enough treatment slots to help someone who may have been scared by the need to use Narcan and they may slip back into drug use.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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