AIDS Resource Center Ohio (ARC Ohio) through its subsidiary, AMC Ohio Pharmacy, is now able to dispense naloxone (also known as Narcan®), a medication used to reverse opioid overdose, without a prescription. This move makes the AMC Ohio Pharmacy the first public pharmacy in Dayton to offer this service.
According to Joel Diaz, Chief Marketing & Community Affairs Officer for ARC Ohio, “the protocol requires individuals to get two doses, two nasal sprays and two adapters run less than $100 cash. It also can be billed to most insurance companies & Medicaid. All someone has to do is go into the pharmacy and request it, the pharmacist will then walk them through the protocol.”
The decision comes in response to Ohio’s increasing opiate epidemic and after Governor John Kasich signed HB 4 into law this past summer which gave authorization to pharmacists or pharmacy interns to dispense naloxone without a prescription, in accordance with a physician-approved protocol.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, more than 13,000 Ohioans have lost their lives to drug overdoses since 1999. On average approximately five people die each day in Ohio due to drug overdose. Opioids, which include heroin and narcotic prescription painkillers, are the leading cause of most overdose deaths. Individuals with liver disease and/or HIV have an increased risk for overdose.
When administered during an opioid overdose, naloxone reverses the effects of the overdose within seconds; however it must be administered while calling 911 for medical assistance. Naloxone blocks receptors in the brain from the effects of the opioids and can restore breathing. It may be administered by intramuscular injection, intranasal spray or auto-injector.
Naloxone was administered 74,000 times in Ohio from 2003 to 2012. “Naloxone is a proven harm reduction strategy and life-saving tool to help in the fight against drug overdose” says ARC Ohio President & CEO, Bill Hardy. “Our goal is to help save lives.”
Increased access to naloxone is part of a harm reduction strategy being implemented by ARC Ohio which seeks to reduce the negative consequences associated with drug use, reduce the overall level of drug consumption and help prevent new HIV and other blood-borne infections.