Harm reduction groups are calling on the Biden administration to make the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone available to them over-the-counter, NPR reports. Currently, naloxone is a prescription drug. These groups must meet a series of requirements to purchase naloxone from drug companies.
Giving naloxone over-the-counter status will make it easier to order and distribute it to people at the greatest risk of overdosing, the groups say.
While naloxone is considered a prescription drug by the Food and Drug Administration, every state allows individuals to purchase it at a pharmacy without a prescription. States work around the prescription designation in creative ways. For example, some states have a health official write one prescription for every resident.
Harm reduction groups and other organizations cannot use these workarounds, the article notes. They must have a doctor sign for the order, and the doctor cannot sign for another group. The organization must have a medical or pharmacy license and must be able to comply with regulations for storing and dispensing naloxone. They cannot have an address that is a private home to receive shipments.
These requirements can be burdensome for smaller harm reduction groups, which often are led by volunteers and operate out of people’s homes or cars.