Texas Pharmacists Can Soon Provide Naloxone Without a Prescription

Pharmacists in Texas will soon be allowed to dispense the opioid overdose reversal agent naloxone without a prescription to those in need under a new standing order.

Pharmacists in Texas will soon be allowed to dispense the opioid overdose reversal agent naloxone without a prescription to those in need under a new standing order.

This new authority, which will take effect on August 1, 2016, is part of the Texas Pharmacy Association’s (TPA) “Saving Lives Initiative,” which also granted pharmacists permission to administer epinephrine earlier this year.

The standing order for naloxone has been touted as a “landmark movement” in the fight against the opioid abuse epidemic, which has been particularly devastating in Texas.

“Texas has the second highest cost of health care associated with opioid abuse in the country, and of the top 25 cities in the country with opiate abuse problems, 4 are in Texas,” said Mark Kinzly, co-founder of the Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative, in a press release. “So, having access to lifesaving medications for the citizens of Texas is an important way to curb this epidemic.”

According to the CDC, prescription opioid deaths alone increased 4-fold in the past 15 years, and opioids were implicated in nearly 15,000 of the 20,044 prescription drug overdose deaths in 2008 alone. By the end of 2015, the Drug Enforcement Administration declared drug overdose deaths to be the leading cause of injury death in the United States—jumping ahead of motor vehicle accidents.

These numbers drive the need for patients and health care professionals in all states to quickly recognize and act on the signs of opioid overdose and withdrawal.

“This standing order is intended for every pharmacist in Texas to have the ability to provide this critical lifesaving antidote,” said TPA President Rene Garza, of Stonegate Pharmacy in Austin, in a press release.

Texas pharmacists will be able to act under the standing order only after completing a 1-hour course accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy and in coordination with the TPA.

Texas joins California, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Washington, Rhode Island, and other states that have created pathways for pharmacists to dispense the overdose antidote.