ACME Now Selling Overdose-Reversal Drug NARCAN at Pennsylvania Pharmacies

The supermarket chain announced today it has begun selling NARCAN Nasal Spray, which reverses heroin and opioid overdoses, at all its Pennsylvania pharmacies.

ACME - Lawrence Park Shopping Center - Delaware County

The ACME Sav-On Pharmacy in the Lawrence Park Shopping Center in Broomall. (Photo courtesy ACME)

The country is the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. The CDC estimates 89 people die every day from an opioid-related overdose in the United States. Pennsylvania officials say that, in 2014, 2,400 people were killed by drug overdoses. Heroin and opioid overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the state.

Amazingly, there is a drug — Naloxone, commonly known by the brand name NARCAN — that can immediately reverse an overdose by reversing the depression opioids cause in the central nervous and respiratory systems. Research has shown that availability of naloxone does not encourage people to use opiates more. 

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf issued a standing order in October for naloxone for all residents of the state. The order allows naloxone to be purchased without a prescription at a pharmacy. “Making it possible for all Pennsylvania residents to access the life-saving drug naloxone is a huge victory in our battle against drug overdose deaths in the commonwealth,” Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine said.

It was previously available in injectable form only. But last November the Food and Drug Administration approved a nasal spray version of NARCAN. “While naloxone will not solve the underlying problems of the opioid epidemic,” FDA acting commissioner Stephen Ostroff said, “we are speeding to review new formulations that will ultimately save lives that might otherwise be lost to drug addiction and overdose.”

CVS has been stocking naloxone in all its pharmacies since last year. Now the state’s massive supermarket chain, one with roots in South Philadelphia, is joining them. At a press event in Delaware County today, ACME announced NARCAN Nasal Spray is now available at all 40 of its pharmacies in Pennsylvania. There are 178 total ACME supermarkets in the state.

“The opioid and heroin epidemic cannot be ignored,” said Danielle D’Elia, communications manager for ACME. “By stocking NARCAN Nasal Spray in our pharmacies, we hope to give our communities – the family, friends, loved ones and caregivers of those struggling with addiction – a tool that might help prevent the avoidable loss of a loved one.”

D’Elia told Philadelphia magazine the nasal spray was now available at all 40 ACME pharmacy locations in the state. ACME held an event with Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan and Delaware County Councilman Dave White today at the pharmacy in Broomall to announce the initiative. Since making naloxone available to first responders in November 2014, Delaware County says 244 overdoses have been reversed.

“In Delaware County, heroin and opioid abuse is a serious health and public safety threat that is endangering lives and tearing families apart,” Whelan said. “We believe making NARCAN Nasal Spray available to first responders and police as well as families will continue to save lives and provide a chance for those suffering from addiction to get help.”

NARCAN, made by Adapt Pharma, is the only naloxone nasal spray on the market. It costs $155.69 out of pocket, though it is covered by many insurance providers. The person who is on the insurance, however, must be the one to pick it up. (D’Elia gave an example: If parents want naloxone because they are worried their child is using opiates, the child must be there in order to pick up the prescription.)

There are 10 ACME stores with pharmacies in Philadelphia, and more in the suburbs.

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