CVS Pharmacists Can Dispense Naloxone Sans Rx in 12 More States


CVS Health pharmacists can now provide the opioid overdose antidote naloxone to patients without a prescription in a dozen more states.

CVS Health pharmacists can now provide the opioid overdose antidote naloxone to patients without a prescription in a dozen more states.

While CVS patients could already receive naloxone in Rhode Island and Massachusetts without a prescription, CVS recently announced that it was expanding access in 12 more states, which have the following legislation concerning naloxone dispensing:

1. Arkansas: The Naloxone Access Act allows pharmacists acting in good faith to dispense an opioid agonist in accordance with a protocol specified by a practitioner.

2. California: Assembly Bill No. 1535 authorizes pharmacists to furnish naloxone in accordance with state-approved protocol, including education for the patient receiving naloxone.

3. Minnesota: Chapter 232, S.F.No. 1900 includes a Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention section that releases health care professionals from liability if they directly or by standing order dispense naloxone. Physicians can enter into a protocol with pharmacists to prepare valid prescriptions for naloxone, and pharmacists can administer naloxone to patients experiencing an overdose.

4. Mississippi: The Emergency Response and Overdose Prevention Act states that pharmacists acting in good faith can dispense opioid antagonist under a prescription by standing order of a physician.

5. Montana: Has no naloxone access law.

6. New Jersey: The Overdose Prevention Act gives immunity for pharmacists involved in dispensing naloxone.

7. North Dakota: Senate Bill 2104 allows pharmacists to have limited prescriptive authority to provide naloxone rescue kits to treat an opioid overdose.

8. Pennsylvania: Opioid Overdose Reversal Act 139 allows first-responders and law enforcement officers to enter into a written agreement with a certified emergency medical services provider to obtain a supply of naloxone.

9. South Carolina: The South Carolina Overdose Prevention Act allows pharmacists acting in good faith to dispense opioid antagonists pursuant to a standing order by a prescriber.

10. Tennessee: The Tennessee General Assembly passed House Bill 1427, which removes liability from health care practitioners who dispense opioid antagonists.

11. Utah: The Emergency Administration of Opiate Antagonist Act allows the dispensing of an opiate antagonist to someone who is “reasonably believed” to be experiencing an overdose.

12. Wisconsin: Senate Bill 352 states that certified first responders can administer the drug if they have received training.

“The states in which patients don’t need to present a prescription to receive naloxone at our pharmacies allow standing order or collaborative practice agreements between pharmacies and prescribers for this medication,” CVS spokesperson Mike DeAngelis told Pharmacy Times.

DeAngelis said CVS is hoping to enter into similar agreements in other states, but he did not mention any specific states that the pharmacy chain was pursuing.

CVS vice president of pharmacy professional practices Tom Davis, RPh, noted in a press release that increased access to naloxone can help save patients’ lives.

“Over 44,000 people die from accidental drug overdoses every year in the United States, and most of those deaths are from opioids, including controlled substance pain medication and illegal drugs such as heroin,” Davis stated. “Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses, and by providing access to this medication in our pharmacies without a prescription in more states, we can help save lives.”

Beyond CVS, some state pharmacy associations and boards have worked to pass legislation permitting naloxone dispensing without a prescription in a number of states, including Kentucky, California, and Colorado.

This push for increased naloxone access is one of a number of projects CVS is involved in this month related to prescription drug abuse. For example, the pharmacy chain is working with Boston Medical Center and Rhode Island Hospital to support a demonstration project of pharmacy-based naloxone rescue kits, according to a press release.

CVS is also continuing its efforts to help dispose of unwanted medications through donations to drug collection units at police departments.

In addition, hundreds of CVS stores participated in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which took place in most states on September 26, 2015.

CVS customers can also use postage-paid envelopes at all CVS pharmacies to dispose of their unwanted medications.

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