As the national opioid crisis grows ever more visible, Hy-Vee Inc., in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), is providing naloxone is without a prescription at Hy-Vee pharmacies in the state, the sixth in the Midwestern grocer’s eight-state footprint to offer the anti-overdose medication without a prescription.
Since Minnesota pharmacists can dispense naloxone without a prescription through a physician-signed protocol with a designated pharmacy or pharmacy chain, MDH has given the physician-signed protocol to Hy-Vee. Previously, the only way for a person to obtain naloxone was through his or her doctor or other prescriber, with a subsequent trip to a pharmacy to have the prescription filled.
“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, MDH medical director.
Kept behind the counter, Naloxone is available upon request at Hy-Vee pharmacies in either a nasal spray, which is more commonly used, or an injection. Its cost depends 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,” noted Kristin Williams, SVP and chief health officer at West Des Moines, Iowa-based 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 are able to recognize signs of an opioid overdose and how to administer the medication, which can be given to anyone who has overdosed on a wide range of opioids, including hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and codeine, as well as heroin.
"We applaud the U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory on Naloxone and Opioid Overdose, knowing the epidemic continues to devastate communities across our country. A person loses their life from an opioid overdose every 12.5 minutes," said Colleen Lindholz, Kroger's president of pharmacy and The Little Clinic. "We know that pharmacists are the most accessible health professionals to the public and play a vital role in providing access to the life-saving drug naloxone."
Kroger currently stocks naloxone, an opioid overdose-reversing drug, in its 2,300 pharmacies across 35 states and the District of Columbia with more than 1,900 of those locations dispensing naloxone without a prescription.
Kroger also plans to host drug take-back events at store locations across the country on April 28, in partnership with Cardinal Health and coinciding with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
Kroger is also partnering with EVERFI and Generation Rx to support drug prevention programs for high school students in certain markets.
"Every day in our stores and pharmacies, in large ways and small, Kroger is committed to being a part of the solution and helping people live healthier lives," Lindholz said.
Employee-owned Hy-Vee operatesmore than 245 retail stores in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Kroger operates 2,800 stores across the country under various banner names.