99¢ per month for 3 months
99¢ per month for 3 months

Pharmacists set to keep dispensing opioid overdose drug

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

An emergency rule that allows Michigan pharmacists to dispense life-saving doses of naloxone has been extended in Michigan, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said Tuesday.

The medication can immediately reverse the effects of opioids — such as heroin, morphine, codeine, oxycodone, methadone and Vicodin — that can cause people to stop breathing. Also sold under the brand name Narcan, it does not reverse the effects of overdoses caused by non-opioid drugs.

Michigan is among at least 30 states where naloxone is available without a personal prescription. Many rescue workers, law enforcement officers and Michigan State Police troopers keep the medication in their vehicles.

Gov. Rick Snyder in May asked the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to create an emergency rule allowing registered pharmacies to dispense naloxone without a prescription from an individual’s physician.

Under the rule, the drug can now be given out under a standing order signed by Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The measure was set to expire on Nov. 27, but will remain in place through May 27, 2018, under the extension, LARA spokesman Jason Moon said Tuesday.

As of mid-November, 49.8 percent of Michigan’s 2,840 pharmacies with controlled substance licenses had registered with the state health department to be able to dispense naloxone under the emergency rule, according to state health officials.

More than 8,900 people died from an opioid overdose from 1999 through 2015, with 50 percent of those deaths occurring since 2010, the state reported.

“During the first three months of the naloxone standing order, pharmacies dispensed 1,290 orders of naloxone that all had the potential to save a life,” Calley said in a Tuesday press release.

“Extending these emergency rules will help ensure that Michiganders maintain access to this lifesaving drug permanent rules are finalized.”

People who obtain naloxone from pharmacies receive information on steps for responding to an opioid overdose and important details about where to go for further treatment, according to health officials.

Pharmacies are required to continue tracking the amount of naloxone dispensed and report the numbers to the state each quarter.

Where to get naloxone

Pharmacies register to dispense naloxone can be found at