May 9, 2024  –  The Whittington family launched Med Kwik, vending machines filled with over-the-counter pharmacy items. Their daughter, 15-year-old Avery Whittington, who is serving as Miss Western Arkansas’ Teen,  said she was inspired to make opioid overdose awareness her community service after seeing the effects of opioid addiction firsthand.

“We thought it would be a good idea to put machines that were available 24/7 [in] hospitality locations like hotels, airports, hospitals, universities,” Gary Whittington said.

There are now around 20 Med Kwik machines in Arkansas, with the machine at Arkansas Colleges of Health Education in Fort Smith being the first in the state to dispense Narcan.

The Whittingtons said they were inspired to expand the machine’s inventory to include Narcan by a need they saw in the community.

“We’re both from Van Buren, and our family has been raised in Van Buren,” Rachel Whittington said. “We’ve had a couple of seniors that have suffered opioid overdoses, and over the last couple of years, we wanted to put Narcan out and be available for our community.”

Gary and Rebecca are both pharmacists, but Med Kwik and the mission to make Narcan accessible is a family project.