COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio pharmacists can now dispense the overdose reversal drug naloxone without a prescription, thanks to a newly adopted state law, according to a statement released Friday.
HB 4, signed into law today by Governor John Kasich, authorizes a pharmacist or pharmacy intern to dispense naloxone without a prescription, in accordance with a physician-approved protocol.
Since 1999, drug overdoses have taken the lives of more than 13,000 Ohioans.
These deaths are largely attributable to the abuse of opioids, a class of drug that includes both prescription pain relievers and heroin.
When administered during an opioid overdose, naloxone blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and effectively reverses an overdose.
"Naloxone is a safe and effective tool in the fight against drug overdose" says State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Steven W. Schierholt.
"Ohio pharmacists are encouraged to offer this important service in their communities."
A report in April by the Ohio Department of Health Records shows there were about 196 more deaths in 2013 compared to 2012. Opiates, which include heroin and prescription painkillers, were culpable in more than 70 percent of overdose deaths.
"Ohio is fighting drug abuse through many initiatives on several fronts at the state and local levels involving law enforcement, public health, addiction and treatment professionals, healthcare providers, educators, parents and many others," said ODH Director Richard Hodges.
"Many of these initiatives were launched in 2013 or later, and it will take some time for their full impact to be reflected in Ohio's drug overdose deaths. We know that we're doing the right things, but the data underscore the need to redouble our efforts."
Counties that experienced declines in drug overdose deaths from 2012 to 2013 included Lucas County, from 88 to 72, and Summit County from 91 to 76.
To assist pharmacies that are interested in dispensing naloxone pursuant to a protocol, the Board has developed a dedicated web page which features a number of helpful resources, including a guidance document and sample protocol.
There are also multiple Naloxone distribution and training sites in Northeast Ohio, including Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Stark, Summit, Mahoning and Trumbull counties. See below for locations.
In addition, the Board is offering printed no-cost patient educational materials to any participating pharmacy.