WASHINGTON — The heroin and opioid epidemic in Virginia has now reached unprecedented levels, and the state is taking action to make a lifesaving drug more accessible.
The state health commissioner, Dr. Marissa Levine, announced Monday that she has issued a standing order for naloxone, a drug that counteracts the effects of an opioid overdose. Now, any Virginian can walk into a pharmacy and ask for naloxone without a prescription.
Advocates applaud the state’s decision, but some say it needs to take additional steps to curb this crisis, which is expected to take the lives of more than 1,000 Virginians this year alone.
Naloxone, which has the brand name of Narcan, can reverse an opioid overdose, and it has been used to save countless lives. Now that the drug is available without a prescription, officials hope more people will purchase the drug for themselves or loved ones who have substance dependency.