Sen. Velis Demands Pharmacies Increase Access to Narcan

BOSTON — On Monday, state Sen. John Velis (D-Westfield) shared his outrage regarding the lack of access and visibility to the over-the-counter opioid-reversal drug Narcan in Massachusetts pharmacies following the release of a Boston Globe survey of more than 60 statewide pharmacies.

This survey found that many pharmacies in the Commonwealth were inconsistent with their access to Narcan and did not have the item in stock or displayed on store shelves, despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision last spring to allow the overdose-reversal drug to be sold directly to consumers and a Massachusetts law requiring all state licensed retail pharmacies to maintain a continuous supply.

“Narcan saves lives, but only when people are able to get it. With the FDA’s monumental decision this past spring and clear state guidelines, it is absolutely unacceptable that we are not seeing Narcan stocked on all store shelves in every pharmacy across our state,” said Velis, Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use, and Recovery. “The very heart of the FDA’s decision and our state’s guidelines was to make Narcan more available and reduce stigma. If you hide it and make people go back to pharmacy to ask for assistance, the entire purpose is defeated. We cannot lose sight that people’s lives are at stake.”

Velis noted that he plans to reach out to the Department of Public Health about current state guidelines and will be raising this issue as part of the Joint Committee’s work this session.