Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Friday free distribution of naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug, at participating pharmacies throughout the state for one day.
New Jerseyans will be able to visit participating pharmacies and anonymously obtain naloxone at no cost on June 18, without an individual prescription or an appointment. Naloxone will be available at select locations of chain pharmacies such as Walgreens, Rite Aid, ShopRite, and CVS as well as at community pharmacies across the state. The initiative is part of Murphy’s plan to combat the opioid crisis,
“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 in a statement. “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.”
Naloxone will be distributed one dose per person on a first-come, first-serve basis. Naloxone can reverse overdoses from opioids by blocking the effects of opioids on the brain. People who obtain naloxone during the June 18 distribution day will also be given information regarding addiction treatment and recovery. Participating pharmacies have standing orders in place for the dispensing of naloxone. The one-day distribution of free naloxone is part of a pilot program approved by the New Jersey Board of Pharmacy.
“Naloxone access is essential to reversing the tide of the epidemic. That’s why I signed a standing order for pharmacists to dispense it to individuals and families without a prescription,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal. “Pharmacists should visit our website. We are excited that free naloxone day is taking positive steps to increasing access to this life-saving drug.”
“With more than 3,000 overdose deaths in New Jersey last year, the Murphy Administration is taking action to empower residents to help prevent overdoses,” said New Jersey Department of Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson. “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,” Johnson said.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said that naloxone is a critical component in the state’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and save lives.
“Last year in New Jersey, first responders administered the drug more than 16,000 times, preventing thousands of deaths,” said Grewal. “By participating in the Murphy Administration’s pilot program to provide naloxone free of charge, New Jersey pharmacies are not only expanding access to this life-saving drug, they’re reinforcing their role as vital allies in the battle to end New Jersey’s opioid crisis.”
“We applaud the New Jersey Board of Pharmacy for approving a pilot program that allows pharmacies to distribute opioid antidotes free of charge and without prescription,” said Sharon Joyce, director of the Office of the New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies. “Through the board’s partnership with the Department of Human Services, individuals who need this drug will now have it on hand for immediate use during an overdose emergency of a loved one or stranger, when every second it takes to administer an opioid reversal drug could mean the difference between life and death,” said Joyce.
“Giving people this live-saving antidote is also an opportunity to get people on the path to recovery,” said New Jersey Department of Human Services Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke, who manages Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. “Naloxone use is an opportunity to get individuals with opioid addiction on the path to long-term recovery.”
A list of pharmacies participating in the naloxone distribution can be found here.