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(Reuters) — CVS Health Corp. said it would make the opioid overdose antidote, naloxone, available without a prescription at all its pharmacies across Ohio, a state with one of the highest rates of overdose-related deaths.
Naloxone quickly reverses the effects of an overdose of heroin or other opioid drugs and U.S. law enforcement officials have embraced its use in the midst of an increase in opioid abuse.
Naloxone is already available without a prescription in CVS Health stores in more than a dozen states.
Drug overdoses increased 6.5% in 2014 from a year earlier, killing 47,055 people. The highest rates of death were in West Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Ohio, according to report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in December.
With specialty drug spending soaring 60% in the past five years, large health systems have jumped into the specialty pharmacy business to assert some control over those costs by dispensing the drugs to their patients and covered employees.