CVS Adds NY to List of States It Will Sell Anti-Opioid Overdose Drug, Naloxone

CVS Pharmacy announced that it is adding the state of New York to a growing list of states where the pharmacy chain will sell the anti-opioid overdose drug, naloxone, without a prescription.  This brings the total number of states where the pharmacy chain sells naloxone without a prescription to 15.

The New York State Department of Health entered into an agreement with CVS on Thursday.

“Naloxone is a proven life-saver that counteracts the depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system, allowing an overdose victim to breathe normally,” State Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker said in an announcement. “This agreement with CVS/pharmacy will help to save lives and hopefully get people on the road to recovery.”

“We support expanding Naloxone availability and we applaud the state of New York for its leadership in the fight against drug abuse and addiction,” said Tom Davis, Vice President of Pharmacy Professional Practices at CVS to

“Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses and by providing access to this medication in our pharmacies without a prescription in more states, we can help save lives,” Davis said in a September press release announcing the expansion of states from two to 12.

States where CVS currently sells naloxone (also known as Narcan) without a prescription include: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and now New York.

CVS supports expanding naloxone availability in other states and is participating in a research project with Boston Medical Center and Rhode Island Hospital to study the effects of pharmacy-based naloxone rescue kits in reducing opioid addiction and overdose deaths.

Naloxone can be delivered through an injection, and now by nasal spray, as National Pain Report reported in November.

The drug blocks the effects of opioids, including prescription painkillers and heroin, which can cause someone who has overdosed to stop breathing. It can reverse an overdose within minutes and lasts about an hour, providing crucial time for medical professionals to treat the person.

Naloxone poses no danger to individuals who come into contact with it, and has no potential for being abused. It works only if a person has opioids in his or her system, and has no effect if opioids are absent.