When you think of pharmacies, you usually think of them as places to fill prescriptions for everyday medications you may need. However, thanks to an increase in accessibility of Naloxone (also known as Narcan), pharmacies may become a lifesaving force in Ohio. Here is a look at how recent changes in the law will increase pharmacists’ responsibilities and how Naloxone is preventing more opiate overdose deaths.
What Is Narcan?
According to Ohio.gov, Narcan has been safely used to treat acute overdoses and quickly restore normal breathing for more than 30 years. If the person is not experiencing an overdose, it is harmless and will not create any ill-effects, making it a safe bet if someone seems to be in distress after taking opiates. However, it must be administered by a third party because the victim is usually unconscious. It can be injected or taken as a nasal spray and takes effect rapidly, working in two to eight minutes after administration.
Changes in Access
Recently, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services has invested $500,000 a year to ensure that Naloxone is accessible in every Ohio county. As of now, it is available over the counter without a prescription in several states including Ohio, and many large chains such as Walgreens and Publix carry it in their pharmacies. Even Ohio State University is selling naloxone kits at their student health center pharmacy.
The Role of Pharmacists
With new changes in accessibility, pharmacists will take a more active role in education and documentation. Pharmacists in Ohio are now required to document all patients to whom they dispense the drug and to have the patient read and initial a training checklist to acknowledge that he or she has been trained in administration and dosage protocols. Under this model, doctors and pharmacists will regularly participate in updated best practices training and perform quality assurance reviews together.
The cost of Naloxone will vary depending on whether it is filled generically or under its easier-to-administer brand name, Narcan. Unfortunately, due to higher demand, prices are up nationwide. For those who have health insurance, it can sometimes cost less than $10, but those who are uninsured may pay between $40-$140. A search on GoodRx indicates that name brand Narcan is about $135.00 to fill out of pocket at most pharmacies in Cleveland.
Naloxone is highly effective at reversing the effects of opiate overdose, but if an excess of the drug has been taken or an especially powerful version like Fentanyl, it can require two full dosages to work. Because this is an emergency drug, it is important to act quickly to save a life. That is why it is carried by EMS and other emergency personnel. If you are an opiate addict or have a friend or loved one who is, you should have it dispensed ahead of time as a just-in-case measure to carry with you, much you might carry an Epi-Pen.
Are you or any of your loved ones struggling with opiate addiction? Recovery Village Columbus is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment facilities and options that save lives.