The State of Michigan is throwing a haymaker in the fight against the opioid crisis. This latest move stems from legislation passed late last year to combat what has become an epidemic.
“This here is the overdose kit that we were distributing. The same stuff that we would be giving out at the pharmacy level.”
Now people with opioid addictions or their relatives will be able to by the overdose reversal drug, Naloxone or Narcan, over the counter.
Governor Rick Snyder approved a standing order from the Department of Health and Human Services allowing pharmacies to dispense the drug.
“I think it’s very important that it’s readily available so we can save lives,” said Dr. Shaun Jayakar of St. John Providence.
The move comes as the number of deaths caused by opioid overdoses continues to rise, and the drugs are getting stronger.
“One application of Nalaxone might not be the antidote like it used to be because of the continued potency, the continued synthetic component that is being put into and utilized in the heroin that is being distributed on the street,” said Scott Masi at the Brighton Center for Recovery.
Those buying Naloxone can get enough for one treatment – but there is no limit on refills.
Before the order, only law enforcement, first responders, and doctors would administer Nalaxone. That won’t be the case anymore.
“If you give this medication they become agitated, they can become restless, their heart can race so ideally it would be a medication prescribed by a doctor. However, with this epidemic of deaths due to overdoses, i think the benefits outweigh risks,” said Dr. Jayakar.
Those in need of the overdose reversal drug may experience sticker shock at their local pharmacy.
“The nasal spray is going to be around $150 without insurance. If your insurance covers it, it will just be your co-pay. It injectable, the really expensive one is going to be around $4,500 to $4,900,” said Ghada Abdullah at Park Pharmacy.
There’s another potential drawback – will a readily available fix to an opioid overdose encourage more abuse?
“I personally don’t believe that this is going to be something that someone’s going to take to a party and say, ‘Hey guys we can get high just because we have this Narcan’, I really doubt that’s going to happen,” said Abdullah. “It’s just going to help save someone’s life.”
Now pharmacies have to register with the Department of Health and Human Services to dispense Naloxone, and they have to keep track of who’s buying it and how much.
Thursday, May 25, 2017
LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today authorized the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to issue a standing order pre-authorizing the distribution of naloxone by pharmacists to eligible individuals.
“Naloxone is a tool in the fight against opioid addiction that can save lives immediately and we need to make sure all residents statewide have access, both in rural areas and urban centers,” Gov. Snyder said. “Our entire state has been affected by this horrible epidemic. I have said that state government will use all possible resources to reverse the course of the opioid crisis. This is one more action that demonstrates our full commitment to addressing the problem.”
Naloxone is a fast-acting medication that reverses opioid overdose. Pharmacies that obtain the standing order will be able to dispense naloxone to those at risk of an opioid-related overdose, as well as family members, friends, or other persons who may be able to assist a person at risk of an overdose. Currently, naloxone is only available to be administered by law enforcement or other first responders.
“As we continue our fight against opioid addiction, this order makes naloxone more accessible for those most likely to need it,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive of MDHHS. “This is a vital step in reducing deaths related to opioid addiction in Michigan. By allowing for shorter response times in emergency situations, we can help save lives.”
States nationwide have experienced a dramatic increase in the number of opioid-related overdoses in recent years. In Michigan, the number of heroin-related overdose deaths increased from 1.1 per 100,000 residents in 2007 to 6.8 per 100,000 residents in 2015. Opioids, including heroin and prescription drugs, accounted for 473 deaths in 2007; in 2015, that number increased to 1,275.
As part of their final recommendations, Gov. Snyder’s Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force found that naloxone is a safe and lifesaving drug that should be more accessible. In 2016, Public Act 383 was passed giving the chief medical executive authority to issue a standing order that does not identify a patient for the purpose of dispensing naloxone. To dispense naloxone under the standing order, pharmacies must register with MDHHS online at www.michigan.gov/naloxone.
When obtaining naloxone from a pharmacy, individuals will be provided with the steps for responding to an opioid overdose as well as important information about where to go for treatment services. Pharmacies will be required to keep track of the amount of naloxone dispensed and will report these numbers to MDHHS on a quarterly basis.
To learn more about drug treatment services available near you, visit www.michigan.gov/bhrecovery.Courtesy of: http://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277–413050–,00.html