Free Naloxone offered at New Jersey pharmacies Tuesday

More than 3,000 people died from an overdose last year in New Jersey, according to state officials

On Tuesday, for the first time, New Jersey is offering free Naloxone for one day, in hopes that more people will help to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

One hundred seventy-five pharmacies are giving out single doses of the drug to people for free, without an appointment or prescription.

Pharmacist John Power went through the tutorial with each person who came into his office, including Wendy DeCosta of Browns Mills, New Jersey.

"My daughter has been in rehab twice for addiction to heroin," she said.

People like DeCosta came to Power's Pharmacy in Browns Mills for their free dose of Naloxone--a nasal spray that can revive someone who has overdosed on opioids.

"Whatever the case is, I have it. And I won't have to feel guilty that I couldn't do anything for that person," said DeCosta.

But for Power, each dose he gives out is a tribute to his son.

"I think my son would be very happy to see what's going on here today because when he passed three years ago - even in that short span of time - the paradigm is shifting now," said pharmacist John Power.

Christopher Power was 23 when he died of an overdose. His father says Naloxone was not available to his son three years ago when he needed it. But he says he can give it to others now.

"It is the key to the door that unlocks them coming back into life so they can have a second chance," said Power.

By Tuesday afternoon, a line of people waited in the pharmacy.

"It enables most people. Let's say they have a family member who's struggling with it, they have it right in their house, they can save their life," said Sam Young of Browns Mills.

Not everyone supports the program, but state officials say the drug's benefits are clear.

Dr. Shereef Elnahal, New Jersey commissioner of health said, "Addiction is not something separate from healthcare. Addiction is healthcare. Addiction treatment is healthcare."

The Naloxone is first come first serve. This pharmacy has given out about 45 of their 72 doses. You don't need a prescription and you can remain anonymous.

For the list of participating pharmacies, click here.
Copyright © 2019 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.