Hy-Vee, Department of Health partner to offer Naloxone

Published 2:02 pm Saturday, March 24, 2018

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — To assist in the national crisis concerning opioid overdoses, Hy-Vee, Inc. and the Minnesota Department of Health have announced that naloxone is now available without a prescription at Hy-Vee pharmacies in Minnesota.

Minnesota marks the sixth state in Hy-Vee’s eight-state region to offer the medication without a prescription. Naloxone is administered to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Use of naloxone was also the subject of a local training in administration of the medication in October 2017, as concerns about opioid overdoses grew.

In Minnesota, pharmacists can dispense naloxone without a prescription through a physician-signed protocol with a designated pharmacy or pharmacy chain. In a joint effort to help prevent opioid-related deaths, the Minnesota Department of Health provided the physician-signed protocol to Hy-Vee. Previously, the only way for individuals to obtain naloxone was through their doctor or other prescriber, followed by a trip to the pharmacy for the drug.

Email newsletter signup

“We are very pleased that the Minnesota Department of Health has this opportunity to work with Hy-Vee to expand access in Minnesota to naloxone, a life-saving drug,” said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, medical director at MDH.

Naloxone is available upon request at Hy-Vee pharmacies in both nasal spray and injection forms, although, nasal spray is the most commonly used form. The drug is stored behind the counter and cost varies, depending on the form and whether a customer goes through his or her insurance, or pays cash.

“We know the availability of this medication has the potential to save lives,” said Kristin Williams, senior vice president and chief health officer at Hy-Vee. “It’s vital to do everything we can to assist a loved one who may encounter an opioid overdose by combining medications or by accidentally taking too much of a medication, being unaware of the life-threatening results.”

Hy-Vee pharmacists will also ensure that patients and their family members understand how to recognize signs of an opioid overdose and how to administer the medication. While naloxone is not a cure for an opioid overdose, it can assist an individual until emergency treatment is available and long-term treatment is provided. The medication has no effect if opioids are absent.

Naloxone can be administered to any person who has overdosed on a wide range of opioids, including hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and codeine, as well as heroin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids killed more than 42,000 people in 2016, more than any year on record. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.