Allowing pharmacists in Ohio to provide the opioid overdose antidote naloxone without a prescription led to a more than 2,000% increase in dispensing of the drug, a new study finds.
State legislators gave Ohio pharmacists permission to dispense naloxone without a prescription in 2015, HealthDay reports. Since then, there has been a 2,328% increase in naloxone dispensing, University of Cincinnati researchers report in JAMA Network Open.
“Our study shows that this change in the Ohio law allowed pharmacists to have more opportunity to participate in the management of patients addicted to opioids,” lead researcher Pam Heaton said in a news release. “Overdoses are not a planned event so during an emergency is not the time to try and access naloxone. The intent is for any adult to be able to go to a pharmacy and purchase naloxone for themselves or for anybody who might need it, so they are adequately prepared to administer a life-saving medication.”
How to Use Naloxone to Reverse Opioid Overdose and Save Lives
A variety of drugs and drug combinations carry the risk of fatal overdose. Emergency protocol for any suspected overdose includes calling 911. However, in the case of opioids, which includes heroin and prescription pain medications like Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet, naloxone (also known by the brand name Narcan) can reverse an overdose, potentially saving a loved one’s life.