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Safeway, Albertsons join fight against state's opioid crisis

Medical experts say that having the drug naloxone on hand is like having a fire extinguisher in your home, and Safeway and Albertson's are trying to lead the way. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - A major grocery chain is taking a stand in the fight against the state's opioid crisis by trying to prevent fatal drug overdoses.

Medical experts say that having the drug naloxone on hand is like having a fire extinguisher in your home, and Safeway and Albertson's are trying to lead the way.

In the past couple of months, pharmacies at Safeways and Albertsons across the state began selling Narcan nasal spray to patients without requiring a prescription. The goal is to make a difference in the growing opioid crisis.

“This is one of the single greatest services I have ever been involved in providing," said Dr. Amy Justham, the pharmacy manager at the Safeway in lower Queen Anne.

The crisis is only getting worse. King County set a disturbing new record for fatal overdoses with 359 deaths last year. Each year that tally climbs, and the majority of cases involve opioids.

Narcan nasal spray offers those patients a second chance at life, and while Safeway and Albertsons aren't the only places to offer it, the stores hope to have a big impact on the problem.

“We're the largest provider, and we're one of the first providers to do this without an outside prescription,” Justham said.

And it’s not just junkies in back alleys that need naloxone. Plenty of people have doctors' prescriptions for these pain killers and all kinds of complications can result.

People interested in getting naloxone from Safeway or Albertsons need to go through a 15 minute consultation, and can then walk out with a box of Narcan at the end of the visit.

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