Drug Designed to Prevent Overdose Deaths Available Soon at Some Pharmacies Without Prescription

May 18, 2015

Naloxone administered to a heroin overdose patient.

A drug that can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose will soon be available without a prescription in Kentucky.

The state Board of Pharmacy’s emergency regulation went into effect last week to allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone, a drug that’s already used in hospital emergency rooms and by law enforcement agencies.

Van Ingram, head of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, says the hope is to save people who can then be rehabilitated.

“Substance abuse treatment is the end-goal for all individuals who are addicted, but we can’t get them to substance abuse treatment if they aren’t alive.”

Naloxone can be administered by a needle injection, through an auto-injector, and through a intranasal device.

A bill passed this year by state lawmakers allows pharmacists to establish guidelines on how to prescribe the drug.

“They get that protocol approved by a physician, and they can actually sell that drug without a doctor’s prescription for a specific person,” Ingram says.

Any pharmacist who wants to dispense naloxone will first have to learn how to train patients to properly take the drug. Ingram says he hopes at least one of the large chain pharmacies that operates in Kentucky will decide to dispense the drug at their stores.