Naloxone Available Without Prescription

Naloxone Available Without Prescription
Posted on 04/10/2018

Last week, U.S Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued an advisory encouraging more of the public to carry naloxone to help address opioid overdose concerns. To increase access to this medication, Walgreens and other local pharmacies in Texas have made naloxone available over-the-counter. 

Naloxone is a medication that can be used to reverse the effects of opioid drugs in the event of an overdose. “Opioids” includes a range of medications like morphine or oxycodone and illegal drugs like heroine. It helps a person overdosing to breathe normally again by affecting the central nervous system and respiratory system. Naloxone is not a substitute for medical care, and emergency medical attention should still be sought in the event of an overdose.

Naloxone, often referred to as the brand names Narcan® or Evisio®, comes in two forms: an injection or a nasal spray. It only works if opioids are the cause of the overdose. The medication will not help people overdosing from other causes. It will not harm a person who has not taken opioids, except in some rare cases in which the person has an existing central nervous system condition. 

“By making naloxone available without a prescription, we are making it easier for families and caregivers to help their loved ones by having it on hand in case it’s needed,” said Rick Gates, Walgreens group vice president of pharmacy. “As a pharmacy we are here to help people, and we are committed to making naloxone more accessible in the communities we serve.”

People at risk for opioid overdose or loved ones of those at risk may request naloxone from their pharmacist. Naloxone obtained at pharmacies can be administered by anyone by following the instructions on the packaging. It is only available over-the-counter, and a pharmacist must provide instructions and counseling about the medication. Most insurances, including Medicaid, cover naloxone. 

“From an overdose prevention standpoint, the availability of naloxone is an asset to our community,” says Emily Dean, Public Health Analyst of Behavioral Health with Harris County Public Health and Director of the North Harris County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition. “Our coalition is happy to partner with Walgreens on a range of prevention strategies. Our main concern is preventing youth from getting ahold of potentially addictive opioid medications and becoming at risk for fatal overdose.”  

As of 2016, Texas law also allows people to carry and administer naloxone. Any person may possess naloxone without a prescription. An individual that administers naloxone to a person they believe to be overdosing cannot be held criminally or civilly liable if they use reasonable care. This Good Samaritan law ensures that life-saving overdose treatment can be given without fear of legal trouble. 

Learn More:

 To learn more about the availability of naloxone at Walgreens Pharmacy, visit https://www.walgreens.com/topic/pharmacy/naloxone.jsp

For more information about naloxone and how the medication works, visit https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/opioid-overdose-reversal-naloxone-narcan-evzio

To review the Texas statute covering Naloxone, see Tex. Health and Safety Code §§ 483.101-483.017 available at http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/HS/pdf/HS.483.pdf

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