The Iowa Department of Health, in partnership with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, will make Narcan available for free at local pharmacies, the organizations said in a press release Tuesday.
Narcan, a nasal spray form of naloxone, will be available by request to any individual over 18, the department said. Individuals who request the drug will be screened by a pharmacist for eligibility. If approved, they will be given up to two Narcan kits at no charge.
“This allows Iowans to be prepared in the event they encounter someone experiencing a suspected opioid overdose, or perhaps use opioids themselves and want others they’re involved with to know they have it,” IDPH Opioid Initiatives Director Kevin Gabbert said. “While the dynamics of opioid misuse are complicated, greater availability of naloxone can help keep people alive, offer a chance to get help, and begin a journey of recovery.”
Previous efforts to combat opioid-related overdose deaths include a statewide naloxone standing order that made the opioid antagonist available without a prescription and providing free naloxone kits to law enforcement and first responders.
“This program completely eliminates financial barriers to access the antidote to opioid overdoses,” said Iowa Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Andrew Funk. “It’s wonderful to see the confidence the department has in pharmacies and pharmacists across the state of Iowa by its willingness to partner with pharmacists, one of the most accessible healthcare providers. I’m excited to see the impact that this new endeavor will have on the health of Iowans.”
The efforts led to a minor reduction in opioid-related deaths. In 2017, the state had 206 opioid deaths, while in 2018, it saw just 137 opioid deaths – a nearly 34 percent decrease. According to the state, provisional data for 2019, shows deaths increased to 155 last year.