“Anyone who fears they will one day find their child, spouse or sibling collapsed on the floor and not breathing now has the power to walk into a neighborhood pharmacy and purchase the medication that can reverse that nightmare,” Ms. McCray said, with the mayor by her side.
But three years later, an examination by The New York Times has found that of the 720 pharmacies on the city’s list of locations that provide the drug, only about a third actually had it and would dispense it without a prescription. The list is used on the city’s website, the NYC Health Map, the Stop OD NYC app and when someone calls 311.
Phone calls placed to every pharmacy on the list last month found compliance with the program to be spotty, at best.
In the Bronx, which is battling a surge in heroin use and where more people died of opioid-related overdoses than in any other borough in 2016, only about a quarter of the more than 100 pharmacies on the list had the drug and followed the protocol. Requests for it were often met with bewilderment.
“Can you spell that?” said a pharmacy worker at a Rite Aid on Featherbed Lane in Mount Eden, in one of the areas with the highest opioid-related overdose rates in the city.
“We don’t carry it,” said a pharmacy worker at a Rite Aid on Westchester Avenue in Mott Haven, another such neighborhood.
Some pharmacy workers inaccurately said that only the person in need of the drug could buy it, and then only with a prescription. “Are you having an overdose? You can’t buy it for someone else,” a pharmacy worker said at a Walgreens in Bronx Park, another area with a high overdose death rate. “If it’s for someone else, they would need to get a prescription.”
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