Intermountain Healthcare announced an effort Thursday to reduce drug overdose deaths by increasing access to an antidote called Naloxone. Utahns can now visit any Intermountain community pharmacy in the state and buy Naloxone without a prescription from a doctor.
This year, Governor Gary Herbert and the Utah Legislature declared drug overdose deaths a public health emergency. Buck Stanford is Community Operations director for Intermountain Healthcare Pharmacy Services. He says Naloxone can save lives by reversing the effects of opioids, but you have to have it on hand for it to work.
“One of the big challenges to getting the Naloxone is really access,” Stanford says. Intermountain has had Naloxone available at their pharmacies for the past year, but it required a prescription from a doctor. Now, through a collaborative practice agreement, pharmacists are trained and empowered to prescribe this potentially lifesaving medication. “What we would like to do is be able to help increase access to this product for whenever the patient or the caregiver needs it,” he says.
Stanford says Naloxone is one piece of a larger strategy to combat the drug overdose epidemic. Intermountain is also working on educating patients and prescribers, providing drug-take-back bins in all 25 community pharmacies, and providing behavioral health services.