When the New Jersey Department of Human Services distributed free packs of the opioid-reversal drug naloxone last Tuesday, it was believed to be the largest such single-day public distribution in the country; more than 16,000 packs were handed out. Each pack contained two doses of naloxone nasal spray.
The free naloxone was made available without individual prescriptions at 174 pharmacies.
Pharmacist Chris Yanoschak of Boyt Drugs in Metuchen said he was “overwhelmed” by the stories people shared about losing loved ones and wanting to be prepared to try to save someone else. The pharmacy distributed 135 boxes on Tuesday. “We had a high demand, about one person every five minutes,” Yanoschak said. “I wasn’t surprised there was a good turnout because there were no questions asked, but it has affected so many more people than I thought. We have lost some young ones in town, so we had a lot of concerned parents too. It was a great way for people to try to help out.”
Pharmacist Chirag Patel of the Walgreens on Route 33 in Hamilton called the day a “unique experience.” The pharmacy distributed 168 boxes. “I was happy to see so many people came out to help others,” Patel said. “Without asking, some shared their stories of their family and friends who died from an opioid overdose. Everyone was very appreciative of having our store participate in this event. I’m proud I was able to help families and caregivers and potentially save someone’s life.”
More than 3,000 New Jerseyans died of drug overdoses in 2018.