Antidote for Opioid Overdose Now Available without Prescription in California

California leads the way in helping curb the number of deaths from accidental overdose of prescription painkillers and heroin by making the life-saving antidote available without a prescription.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

California pharmacists can hand out an overdose antidote to patients on powerful painkillers without requiring a prescription under new rules aimed at curbing drug-related fatalities.

Pharmacists in the state will also be able to distribute the antidote to heroin addicts.

Patients and addicts may obtain the potentially life-saving medication naloxone simply by asking for it. Pharmacists who believe a customer may be at risk also may suggest the antidote, according to the state Board of Pharmacy.

This is incredibly good news!

In 2012, there were more than 1,800 opioid-related deaths in California, 72% of them involving prescription pain medications, the pharmacy board said. Nationally, such drugs have contributed to more than 170,000 deaths over the last 15 years. Commonly prescribed opioids also include OxyContin, Norco, Opana, Roxicodone, Demerol and Dilaudid.

Making naloxone readily available to those who use and abuse opioid medications could potentially save thousands of lives. Naloxone is relatively inexpensive and works immediately when given to a person who has overdosed. It is available as both an injection (given like an epi-pen in an emergency situation) or as a nasal spray. Opioid overdose, with or without alcohol used in combination, can result in respiratory failure and death. Naloxone can be an important step in keeping a person alive long enough to receive emergency treatment.

We respectfully urge first responders, medical professionals and pharmacists to lobby their state lawmakers to encourage them to follow California’s lead. Untold lives can be saved by the immediate availability of naloxone to those who suffer an overdose. Please make this lifesaving medication available without a prescription everywhere.

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