No Rx for Narcan at Rite Aids

MILFORD – The three Rite Aid pharmacies in Milford now have the overdose reversal drug naloxone available without a prescription.

Last week, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and the pharmacy chain signed a standing order to stock the emergency treatment in all 68 New Hampshire Rite Aids.

Ashley Flower, in a Rite Aid corporate press office, said supplies will vary by store and pharmacies can place special orders.

In announcing the order, Gov. Maggie Hassan called heroin and opioid use the most important health problem in the state. Earlier this year, Hassan signed legislation allowing doctors to prescribe Narcan, a brand name for naloxone, to families of those at risk, and in September, the DHHS made 4,500 Narcan kits available at community health centers across the state.

Narcan is used to reverse the effects of opioids, especially in overdose. It works within a few minutes by reversing the depression of the central nervous system and
respiratory system caused by opioids.

Patented in 1961 and approved for opioid overdose by the Food and Drug Administration in 1971, the drug is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system, according to Wikipedia.

Rite Aid will maintain kits that include two doses of naloxone, two atomizers and instructions in many of its 68 locations in New Hampshire, and has the authority to order at all locations upon request.

All four general levels of emergency medical services, which includes many of the state’s firefighters, have the authority, and all trained police officers have the option in New Hampshire, to administer Narcan.

The standing order allows Rite Aid pharmacists to dispense naloxone to a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose or to a family member, friend or other person who can help a person at risk of overdose. Pharmacists will provide training on administering naloxone in the event of an overdose to any individual who buys a kit.

The retail price is about $60 for a two-dose kit, Flower said.

Rite Aid is the first pharmacy chain to make the drug available without a prescription. The Milford Rite Aids are on Mont Vernon Street, Elm Street and Nashua Street at Lorden Plaza.

Nashua has three stores, Hudson has two and Merrimack has one.