N.J. pharmacies will hand out overdose-reversing medication naloxone for free this week

A Narcan nasal device, which delivers naloxone, lies on a counter. (Mary Altaffer/AP Photo)

A Narcan nasal device, which delivers naloxone, lies on a counter. (Mary Altaffer/AP Photo)

More than 300 pharmacies across the Garden State will give out free doses of naloxone to anyone who asks for it starting Thursday and running through Saturday until they run out.

The program is the latest push by Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration to combat the opioid epidemic, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact public health and the economy.

Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said the state wants to make it as easy as possible for residents to access the drug, commonly known by its brand name Narcan.

“You can get Narcan for free with no name needed, no prescription needed, no insurance needed. You can just walk in and ask for it,” she said.

Residents will also receive instructions on how to use the nasal spray as well as information on addiction services. A list of participating pharmacies is available on the state’s website.

Fatal drug overdoses surged this spring during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Jersey, but the numbers have leveled off this summer when compared to last year.

Still, Johnson said officials are concerned that a possible second wave of coronavirus in the coming months could lead to more overdoses.

“We’re very worried about what the pandemic could look like going into the fall. So we want to make sure that everyone who can have access to this life-saving tool has it,” she said.

Each naloxone pack contains two doses of the medication. The state dispersed 32,000 doses of naloxone during a similar event last year.

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