Availability of opioid-overdose antidote at pharmacies

Bottom Line: Pennsylvania became one of the first states in 2015 to implement a statewide standing order allowing pharmacists to dispense naloxone, an antidote for opioid overdoses, without a physician’s prescription. This study looked at the availability (with or without a prescription) of naloxone nasal spray at 418 pharmacies in Philadelphia surveyed by telephone. The authors report 1 in 3 pharmacies had naloxone nasal spray in stock but many still required a physician’s prescription. Naloxone also was more likely to be in stock and available without a prescription at chain stores than independent ones but naloxone was less likely to be available in areas with elevated rates of opioid overdose deaths. Researchers examined only the availability of naloxone as a nasal spray, and not in other forms, which may have underestimated its availability. The findings suggest efforts are needed to strengthen the implementation of statewide standing orders for the availability of naloxone.

Authors: Dima M. Qato, Pharm.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, and coauthors

(doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.5388)

Editor’s Note: The article includes conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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