Just over half of Michigan pharmacies offer overdose-fighting naloxone without prescription


Despite the ability of any Michigan pharmacy to dispense medication to combat opioid overdose without writing prescriptions, slightly more than half of pharmacies in the state offer the drug in such a way.

The standing order for naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, was passed by the Michigan legislature in 2016. This allows any pharmacist to dispense the overdose reversal drug without a prescription—allowing friends, family members or other individuals to obtain naloxone for emergency use.

Researchers at Michigan Medicine conducted a survey of 662 standing order pharmacies for the paper published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Findings reveal that just 54% of Michigan pharmacies offer naloxone without requiring a prescription.

“Our county maps reveal that areas with higher fatality rates had fewer pharmacies participating in the standing order or lacked any nearby pharmacy access,” said Chin Hwa (Gina) Dahlem, Ph.D., FNP-C, FAANP, lead author of the paper, nurse practitioner and a researcher at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. “Naloxone is a life-saving medication for a person experiencing an opioid overdose. We need to continue our efforts to expand naloxone access through pharmacies, hospitals and community naloxone distribution programs to prevent overdose deaths.”

Among pharmacies participating in the standing order in eight southeastern Michigan counties, 85% percent actually had naloxone available and 82% had ever dispensed it.

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