Naloxone Standing Order in Effect, Pharmacy Availability Expands

A standing order for naloxone issued by Deputy Secretary of Public Health Dr. Howard Haft became effective June 1, 2017. Naloxone, a drug that is effective in reversing an opioid overdose, is now available for sale at pharmacies across the state without the requirement of training certification or a prescription.

The Capital Gazette reports:

“Pharmacies play an important role in providing access to naloxone and counseling on how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose,” Haft said. “This order is yet another tool to fight this crisis and to provide immediate assistance to overdose victims.”

During the last General Assembly session, legislators passed the Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort and Treatment Act, an omnibus bill that looked to improve access to mental health and treatment centers as well as improve drug awareness education.

Haft’s order serves as a supplemental measure to those efforts by removing a requirement that only those trained and certified through the Maryland Overdose Response Program were allowed to have naloxone.

The order comes days after the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released a report that showed a 66 percent increase in alcohol and drug overdose related deaths in Maryland from 2015 to 2016.

A significant portion of the increase was opioid-related deaths, with fatalities linked to the synthetic opioid fentanyl more than tripling from 2015 to 2016, jumping from 340 deaths to 1,119 deaths.

County and state officials have pointed to the availability of naloxone training as possibly stemming some of the deadly tide.

In Anne Arundel County, which saw the third most opioid overdose deaths in the state last year according to the agency, the rate of fatal overdoses is down in 2017 when compared to the same time in 2016, according to police statistics.

“By allowing even more people access to naloxone, we’re helping to save lives,” said Clay Stamp, executive director of the Opioid Operational Command Center. “We must remember though, that ultimately, those suffering from the disease of addiction or substance use disorder must be linked to additional treatment to aid in their recovery.”

Read The Capital Gazette to learn more.

Prior coverage on Conduit Street:

Pharmacies Prepare for Naloxone Standing Order