Opioid-Reversal Drug, Naloxone, to Be Co-Prescribed Alongside Opioid Medications
Seven states have passed legislation that requires physicians to prescribe the Opioid-reversal drug, Naloxone, along with an Opioid prescription. Each state has its own codes and regulations for when Narcan or Naloxone should be prescribed. While some are strict and adhere to a list of guidelines, others follow a much looser legislature that leaves more discretion up to the prescribing physician. States with these guidelines currently include:
- Rhode Island
Each of these states proposed and passed their own laws to regulate the dual prescriptions–a step the federal government has yet to take. If you are receiving a prescription for Opioids in one of these states, it’s possible that you could receive a prescription for Naloxone as well. Speak with your doctor if you have any questions about how to use Naloxone or are curious about where to purchase it.
FDA Working to Reduce Overdoses Nationwide
While these 7 states are the start of a more preemptive approach to the Opioid Epidemic and fatal overdoses, more could follow soon. An FDA subcommittee made up of high-level advisors recently held a vote about making the prescription suggestion to the FDA. The 12-11 vote determined that the FDA should start to “recommend” that doctors prescribe Naloxone along with an Opioid medication. This recommendation would not require any doctor to co-prescribe Naloxone but could greatly increase the amount of it needed nationally. The FDA estimated that if they were to pass the vote and recommend the co-prescription nationally, 48 million more doses of Naloxone would have to be manufactured.
While the FDA has been receiving large support from advocates and lobbyists, it has seen some push back from doctors, specialists, and patients. Many fear the stigma that comes with receiving a prescription for an Opioid-reversal drug could label them as an addict, or adversely affect their insurance. Analysts are worried the potentially high costs this could incur, and physicians don’t think prescribing Naloxone will help keep addictions and overdoses down. As they report, most overdoses happen when the user is alone (Naloxone is typically administered by another person). Prescribing it to a person won’t help if they can’t administer it themselves. This could create a huge waste of Naloxone that goes unused and is taken away from public programs and first responders who use it regularly.
This is a complicated situation that we are in as a country, and often times not one solution seems right. Opioid Help will provide updates as this story develops.