Pharmacists Save Lives When Given Authority to Directly Dispense Naloxone

A summary published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) Journal Watch concluded that laws that allow pharmacists to directly dispense naloxone may reduce fatal opioid overdoses.  The summary cited a recent study examining fatal and nonfatal overdoses in all 50 states and D.C. after the implementation of three types of access laws: direct authority, indirect authority through a standing order or statewide protocol, and others.

The study found that “[o]nly laws allowing pharmacists to directly dispense naloxone without a prescription were effective in curbing overdose deaths, reducing the rate by 0.39 per 100,000 people in the 3 or more years since the law’s adoption.”  The study also showed that in states that allow pharmacists to directly dispense naloxone, the rate of nonfatal overdoses in the emergency department increased by 45 per 100,000 people, implying that more patients survived their overdose.

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Related: Naloxone Access in Community Pharmacies

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