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Arizona, CVS partner to allow better access to anti-opioid overdose drug

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona is expanding access to an opioid overdose medication through a partnership with CVS pharmacies, it was announced Tuesday.

The partnership — struck between the chain, law enforcement, lawmakers and first responders — allows some to get anti-overdose medications naloxone or Narcan without a prescription.

“This is an epidemic and we as a society need to do something to address it,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said at a press conference announcing the deal.

In 2015, there were 1,274 overdoses in Arizona, Brnovich said. About 90 Americans die every day from an overdose.

“It’s not about only prevention, but God forbid if someone’s in that situation where they’ve overdosed on an opioid, we want to make sure that it’s easier to get the antidote,” Brnovich said.

The antidote can immediately counteract the effects of an opioid overdose if administered in a timely fashion. However, Bryan Jeffries, president of the Professional Firefighters of Arizona, said the effectiveness of the drug varies based on several factors.

“It’s very dose-related,” he said. “When they’ve taken this drug, if the dose takes them to such a point where they stop breathing, then you only have three to four minutes before brain injury starts to take place.”

Brnovich said his office has worked to crack down on other factors that contribute to the state’s opioid problem.

“We need to get education, we need to get treatment,” Brnovich said. “As the attorney general’s office, we’ve gone after doctors that are overprescribing pills, we’ve gone after pill mills.”

An inhaler of the antidote will cost $110, while an injection will cost $40. Most insurances should cover the drug and the copays will vary on a case by case basis.

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