GREENSBORO, N.C. -- There's new help in the fight against heroin and other opioid addictions in North Carolina. It's a law that allows anyone to go to the pharmacy to get narcan or naloxone without a prescription from a physician, but only under certain conditions.
The state law signed on June 20, 2016, establishes a statewide standing order for naloxone dispensing, which serves as a broad prescription. It allows any pharmacist licensed in the state to dispense naloxone to any patient who meets the standing order criteria without first receiving a traditional (hand-written, phoned, faxed) prescription.
The standing order does NOT make naloxone available over-the-counter (OTC) and it does NOT give the pharmacist prescribing authority because the pharmacist is still dispensing naloxone pursuant to an issued prescription from a prescriber.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (“NC DHHS”) has set up a website to educate pharmacists and the public about the statewide standing order. It may be found at www.naloxonesaves.org.
We put together a list of most common questions and answers about the standing order to help you navigate who needs it and how to get it.
1. What is it? Narcan and naloxone are the same drug. Naloxone is the generic version of the medication. You can administer it via injection or through your nose (nasal spray). EMS, Fire Departments and several Law Enforcement Agencies carry the drug to help save someone who may be experiencing an overdose.
2. What does it do? Narcan and naloxone reverse overdoses from prescription pain killers (oxycotin, oxycodone, Percocet, hydrocodone, etc. and heroin.
3. The North Carolina Standing order allows anyone to go to the pharmacy and get this drug without a prescription from a Physician. Insurance will pay for drug plus co-pay.
4. Who should have naloxone? Anyone on long term pain killers or anyone using heroin.
5. Four out of 5 people on Heroin started on prescription pain killers due to chronic pain. Seven of 10 people on heroin continue to use prescription pain killers which makes it twice as dangerous.
6. You should always ask questions before starting pain killers. (Start low, go slow)
7. Some treatments include a Detox or drugs Suboxone, Methodone.
"This is an addiction issue in most cases was accidental due to long term use of prescription painkillers," said Jeff Pruett from the Partnership for Community Care. "The majority of heroin overdoses are accidental due to the amount of Fentanyl and Car-Fentanyl cut into the heroin."
Pruett says the following people are eligible to receive naloxone under the standing order.
Persons who voluntarily request naloxone and are:
1. At risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose
2. The family member or friend of a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose
3. In the position to assist a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose
"Ultimately, it’s up to the clinical judgment of the pharmacist to decide who’s at risk for overdose; however, the standing order provides a non-exhaustive list of examples for those who may be at risk for overdose," said Pruett.
You can find more information about the statewide standing order and a map/list of all pharmacies dispensing under the standing order by visiting www.naloxonesaves.org. You will also find several local treatment resources on their homepage.
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