Surgeon General, pharmacists to make overdose-fighting drugs easier to access

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DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) — For the Dale Colee, there’s nothing better than seeing someone get better.

“I like to help people,” Colee said. “It’s a great profession.”

Colee has worked as a pharmacist the past 45 years, the past 14 of which as owner and operator of Dale’s Southlake Pharmacy.

But recently, he’s seen a new disease work its way into central Illinois.

Opioid addiction has gripped almost every corner of the United States and it doesn’t discriminate based on age, race or gender.

But there are tools to fight it and Surgeon General Jerome Adams wants to give families of addicts a fighting chance.

“I want more Americans, especially family and friends of those at risk, to carry naloxone,” Adams said.

Naloxone — commonly distributed under the name Narcan — is a lifeline to save an overdose patient. With more than 75 percent of overdoses happening away from medical care, friends and family are often the true first responders.

“The great part about Narcan: if you suspect somebody is having an overdose and they’re really not, Narcan is not going to hurt them,” Colee said.

The other great part: Illinois is one of many states where you can get Narcan and other naloxone medications over the counter at some pharmacies — no prescription needed.

Costs can be as high as $130, but insurance can reduce copays down to little or no cost. If cost is an issue, Colee says he works with organizations like the Salvation Army and the Northeast Community Fund to get the drugs to the patients and families who need them.

Check with your local pharmacy to see if they distribute naloxone over the counter or if a prescription is required.

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