LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Kroger has begun selling the opioid overdose reversal medicine naloxone without a prescription at all of its 96 pharmacies in Kentucky, the supermarket chain announced on Monday.
"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," Calvin Kaufman, President of Kroger's Louisville Division, said in a written statement. "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."
The company said it worked with Bellevue Primary Care's Dr. Jeremy Engel in developing a protocol and processes for dispensing naloxone without a prescription in Kentucky.
"It is wonderful having so many Kroger pharmacists working together to protect their patients and families," Engel said. "Lives will be saved."
Naloxone training for pharmacists in Kroger's Louisville Division, which includes 80 pharmacies, was accomplished with the help of Trish Freeman, RPh, PhD, President of Kentucky Pharmacists Association (KPhA) and clinical associate professor at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy.
"Naloxone is a lifesaving drug in the hands of those actively using opioids, including prescription opioids and heroin, and their loved ones," Freeman said. "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."
"Every life lost to a drug overdose is a tragedy, and life-saving naloxone is critical in our battle against this deadly scourge," Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley said. "Kentucky pharmacists have helped lead the fight after landmark legislation greatly improved access to naloxone. Now Kroger is stepping up with this tremendous effort to improve access even more and save the lives of those fighting addiction."
"By providing convenient access to naloxone, Kroger pharmacists play an integral role in preparing and training Kentucky families for overdose situations," Kroger Pharmacy Director Rene Kendrick said. "Our pharmacy teams are proud to add naloxone without a prescription to our pharmacy services and to provide for the healthcare needs of all Kentucky families."