Heroin, painkiller overdose antidote getting easier to buy

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Naloxone, which rapidly reverses the effects of heroin and other opioids.

It is becoming easier to buy an antidote that reverses the effect of a heroin or prescription painkiller overdose, as policymakers look for ways to fight a growing epidemic.

Nearly every state has passed laws that allow people to buy the drug naloxone without requiring a prescription from their doctor. Major retailers Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Target and Wal-Mart have joined independent drugstores in either relaxing access to naloxone through their pharmacies or are making plans to do so. The grocer Kroger also has done this in a few states.

Naloxone is known by the brand-name Narcan. It can quickly revive someone who has stopped breathing after overdosing on opioids. Those include prescription painkillers like Vicodin as well as illegal narcotics.