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Many U.S. pharmacies don't offer opioid overdose antidote

By Tauren Dyson
Many U.S. pharmacies don't offer opioid overdose antidote
Photo by OverHook/Pixabay

Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Many pharmacies don't offer the drug that can save the lives of people suffering from opioid overdoses, according to three new studies.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday reported 25 percent of pharmacies it surveyed in Texas didn't have naloxone in stock, even as the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that more than 115 people die each day from opioid overdoses.

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The drug reverses the effects of opioid overdose, but 84 percent of Texas pharmacies would give out the drug to customers without a prescription.

"More naloxone in the hands of friends and family can save lives," researchers wrote in a new survey of Texas pharmacies.

RELATED FDA approves powerful new opioid despite ongoing epidemic

One reason for reluctance on behalf of some pharmacies to give out naloxone could stem from some pharmacist-led intervention programs.

The study found that chain drug stores surveyed in Texas -- CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and HEB -- were most likely not to require a prescription to give out naloxone.

A new study in California revealed similar data. It surveyed 1,147 pharmacies two years after California gave pharmacists permission to dispense naloxone without a prescription, but only 23 percent said they would provide naloxone.

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Although access to naloxone has grown around the United States, not all pharmacies have heard the call.

"Patients may face a delay in access to the drug," concluded authors of the new study.

Study authors Dr. Michael Steinman of the University of California, San Francisco, and Dr. Seth Landefeld of University of Alabama at Birmingham also wrote an editorial about pharmacies reluctance to dispense the drug.

"Improved training of pharmacists may be needed to make naloxone universally available for the prevention of opioid-related deaths," Steinman and Landefeld wrote. "Such efforts will require resources, investment, and organizational support."

Researchers have pointed to limited training for pharmacists as one reason.

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