Avera and Hy-Vee Form Partnership to Combat Opioid Epidemic
In the face of a national crisis concerning the abuse of opioids, Avera and Hy-Vee, Inc., have announced a new partnership that can help save lives.
Beginning Feb. 1, Avera and Hy-Vee pharmacies in South Dakota will begin providing naloxone without a prescription. The joint effort is meant to help prevent opioid-related deaths. While naloxone is known to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, the medication has no effect if opioids are absent.
Naloxone will be available at all Avera pharmacy locations in Sioux Falls. The drug also will be available at all Hy-Vee pharmacies in South Dakota, which includes locations in Sioux Falls, Brookings, Vermillion, Watertown and Yankton. Naloxone is available in nasal spray, and injection form by request.
Matthew Stanley, DO, Vice President for Avera’s Behavioral Health Clinical Service Line, said the new partnership extends Avera’s efforts against opioid issues, including the health system’s “Responsible Prescribing” comprehensive campaign.
“Our mission is to make a positive impact on the lives and health of persons and communities, and we know the availability of this medication has the very real potential to save lives for those at risk,” Stanley said. “We are proud to partner with Hy-Vee on this public safety issue.”
Avera and Hy-Vee pharmacists will ensure patients and their family members understand how to recognize the signs of an opioid overdose and how to administer the medication.
“This partnership is an important one for Hy-Vee,” said Kristin Williams, Hy-Vee’s chief health officer and senior vice president. “By teaming up with Avera, we can provide our customers with a drug that can potentially save a person’s life. It’s vital that we do everything we can to assist those who have a loved one battling opioid abuse and those who are battling the addiction themselves.”
In 2015, more than 40 people in South Dakota alone died due to accidental overdose. Naloxone can be administered to any person who has overdosed on a wide range of opioids, including hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and codeine, as well as heroin.
Pharmacists in South Dakota now can dispense naloxone without a prescription through a physician-signed protocol. Both Avera and Hy-Vee pharmacists will also ensure patients and their family members understand how to recognize signs of an opioid overdose and how to administer the medication.
In addition to the partnership with Hy-Vee, Avera has implemented several key initiatives to prevent opioid abuse through a comprehensive campaign that includes promoting recommended protocols around responsible prescribing, provider education and a controlled-substances agreement for physicians and patients to sign. The agreement is then included in the patient’s electronic medical record so other physicians will note it.