As part of a new overdose prevention initiative, Kentucky will begin selling the drug Naloxone over the counter without a prescription in 96 Kroger outlets across the state.
Naloxone is a drug that can reverse an overdose of opioid drugs and often is only administered in the emergency room. However, due to the fact that Kentucky is one of five states with the highest rates of opioid overdoses, a decision has been made to make Naloxone available quickly and easily to anyone who needs it.
Trish Freeman, RPh, PhD, President of Kentucky Pharmacists Association (KPhA) and clinical associate professor at University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, said:
“Naloxone is a lifesaving drug in the hands of those actively using opioids, including prescription opioids and heroin, and their loved ones. Kroger pharmacists are among the most accessible healthcare providers in many areas of Kentucky, and they were quick to take advantage of this specialized training.
As opioid use, abuse, and overdoses continue to surge in Kentucky, by ensuring that all of their pharmacists have been trained to dispense naloxone, Kroger has shown that they are committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities they serve.” 
The decision was announced on Monday, August 15 in hopes of combating the over 1,000 deaths per year that occur in Kentucky alone as a result of prescription drug or heroin overdoses. Within the entire United States, 47,055 deaths were caused by overdoses in 2014. Most of them were as a result of prescription drugs, though there were over 10,000 that were a result of heroin.
This new initiative can be a powerful tool for those struggling with addiction.
Calvin Kaufman, President of Kroger’s Louisville Division, said:
“Unfortunately, Kentucky ranks in the top five states with the highest overdose death rate according to the Centers for Disease Control. Kroger wants to help reverse this terrible statistic. We want families dealing with addiction and families of patients on high doses of prescription opiates to have convenient access to naloxone and have the medication on hand in the event that they need it.”
Hopefully, this will help lower the death toll due to drug use.
Anna Scanlon is an author of YA and historical fiction and a PhD student at the University of Leicester where she is finishing her degree in modern history.