Recently released University of Cincinnati (UC) study findings revealed a 2,328 percent increase in the number of Ohio dispensed naloxone prescriptions.
Five years ago, the Ohio General Assembly approved a law allowing pharmacists to dispense naloxone, a medicine given to those who overdose on drugs such as heroin, without a prescription.
“Our study shows that this change in the Ohio law allowed pharmacists to have more opportunity to participate in the management of patients addicted to opioids,” Pam Heaton, a professor of pharmacy practice at UC’s Winkle College and the study’s lead faculty researcher, said.
Researchers also indicated low-employment counties had 18 percent more naloxone prescriptions dispensed per month compared to high employment counties.
The study, “Association between a Pharmacist Naloxone Dispensing Law and Naloxone Dispensing Rates in Ohio,” appears in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.
“We do not know whether the naloxone was for personal use, a family member or a friend because the law was written to specifically allow access,” Heaton said, noting the study did not seek to quantify the impact of increased naloxone distribution on the rate of opioid abuse or mortality from overdose but was designed to address access.
“Overdoses are not a planned event, so during an emergency is not the time to try and access naloxone. The intent is for any adult to be able to go to a pharmacy and purchase naloxone for themselves or for anybody who might need it, so they are prepared to administer a lifesaving medication,” she said.