Michigan pharmacies offer an opioid fighting medication without a prescription

For those in need, it’s a lifesaver
Michigan pharmacies offer an opioid fighting medication without a prescription
Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 6:00 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A standing order from the State Health Officer allows a trained pharmacist to provide Naloxone to anyone at risk, or anyone in a position to help someone who is at risk, without having a prescription for it. It’s a lifesaving drug that can only work to reverse an opioid overdose if it is readily available.

Related: How a new approach to the opioid epidemic will impact Mid-Michigan

John Warmb is a Program Coordinator at Lansing Syringe Access. Before that, John was a user and he said his story would be a lot different if Naloxone was not readily available in his time of need.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Naloxone, that is just the fact of the matter,” John said. “It’s been a few years ago now that I’ve been abstinent from opioids.”

For that reason, John spends his time making sure Naloxone is stocked and ready for those who need it.

“I think fewer barriers to accessing [Naloxone] is the way we’re going to have more people survive, more people’s lives getting saved,” John said.

Keith Kocher is an Emergency Physician and Associate Professor at the University of Michigan. Kocher worked with the researchers at Michigan Medicine who conducted a survey of 662 standing order pharmacies for the paper published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Findings revealed that just 54% of Michigan pharmacies offer naloxone without requiring a prescription.

“It’s not just enough to participate in the standing order, but you also have to have naloxone available on the shelves in those moments when somebody asks for it,” said Kocher, who is also the senior author of the paper. ‘The more pharmacies make Naloxone available and have it on the shelves, the more likely we can get it into the hands of individuals at risk for an overdose to reduce harm and death from opioids.”

Kocher said they are still looking into the gaps to see why the remaining 46% of pharmacies in Michigan still require a Prescription for Naloxone.

“Making it available in pharmacies is really an important component of this,” Kocher said. “Reducing that barrier of having to have a prescription, I think, is one really important way to reduce barriers to getting Naloxone into the hands of people that need it.”

A list of pharmacies in Michigan approved to dispense Naloxone can be found here.

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