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Iowa Passes Bill to Expand Access to Opioid Antidote

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Sometimes, one squirt of nasal spray is all it takes to save a life. That’s one of the ways that Naloxone, the most common opiate reversal drug, is commonly administered to patients in the throes of an opioid overdose. The drug, also sold under the brand name Narcan, can be difficult to get, often due to strict prescribing laws intended to discourage people from abusing opiates in the first place.

In recent years, however, researchers and public health officials have said they don’t think the drug encourages addiction. Instead, they see the drug as a necessary tool to save lives in the face of an increasingly deadly opioid epidemic– and lawmakers in Iowa have been listening.

2016 Bill Allows Eligible Individuals to Purchase Naloxone for Themselves or Other Who May be at Risk for an Opioid Overdose

In 2016, the Iowa legislature passed a bill allowing a greater amount of individuals to purchase naloxone without a prescription. Previously a doctor’s prescription was required to obtain the medication.

Specifically, the new regulations permit a pharmacy to sell the drug to:

  • Individuals at risk for an opioid overdose
  • Family members or friends of someone at risk for an opioid overdose
  • First responders and other emergency medical personnel
  • Other individuals in a position to assist someone at risk for an overdose

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, a pharmacy needs to perform an eligibility test before selling the drug or refilling it. Despite that, regulations allow up to five packages or ‘kits’ of the drug to be sold on one occasion.

Local lawmakers and public health officials hope that expanded access to naloxone will save lives in parts of the state that are hardest hit by the opioid addiction epidemic. One pharmacy participating in the program is CVS, which says it supports expanding access to naloxone in order to give more people a chance at recovery. As of November 2016, the pharmacy chain’s stores now carry naloxone without a prescription in 41 states.

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