Naloxone Dispensing in Ohio

Written by Kelsey Kresser

It is an exciting time for pharmacy in Ohio, as several bills have recently been introduced that have the potential to affect the future of pharmacy practice. One issue that has received a lot of attention is naloxone dispensing. As many are already aware, the opioid epidemic is a huge public health concern in Ohio and across the nation. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio, which means our citizens are more likely to die from a drug overdose than a motor vehicle accident. This is simply unacceptable.

If a drug user overdoses, naloxone (Narcan) can be used to restore normal breathing and save his or her life. Current law in Ohio allows paramedics and first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, to carry the drug. In 2014, Governor John Kasich also signed House Bill 170 into law, which allowed physicians to prescribe naloxone to active drug users, family members, and friends of those who may be at risk.

An intranasal naloxone kit such as this one can be used in the event of an opioid overdose to reverse respiratory depression and prevent opioid-related death. Image courtesy of CBS News.

Now House Bill 4 has been introduced to the Ohio General Assembly.  HB 4 would allow pharmacists and pharmacy interns in Ohio to dispense naloxone without a prescription. The passage of this law will greatly increase access to this life-saving drug and help combat the opioid epidemic in Ohio. HB 4 has passed through the Ohio House of Representatives unanimously and is currently awaiting action in the Ohio Senate. If the bill is passed, Ohio would be the seventh state to allow pharmacists and pharmacy interns to dispense naloxone without a prescription. [Currently, California, New Mexico, New York, Washington, Rhode Island, and Vermont allow dispensing of naloxone without a prescription.]

This issue is very important to me as a student pharmacist not only because I am an active member in Generation Rx, but also because opioid misuse is likely to be a very important issue throughout my career. Pharmacists are the most accessible health care providers and are instrumental members of the health care team. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to give testimony in support of HB 4 to the Ohio Health and Aging Committee, and I was very encouraged by the feedback I received from Ohio’s representatives. Many legislators do not know the education pharmacists receive today, nor do they fully understand the scope of pharmacy practice. Students’ voices are powerful, and legislators listen to students who are passionate about their profession. I encourage student pharmacists across the country to be aware of the issue of naloxone dispensing, as it will likely affect many of us throughout our careers. I hope that by learning about HB 4, you are encouraged by the work that Ohio is doing to put pharmacists in position to combat the opioid epidemic.

Pharmacy student Kelsey Kresser testified before the Ohio House of Representatives Health & Aging Committee about HB 4 on February 18, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Ken Hale.)

Pharmacy student Kelsey Kresser testified before the Ohio House of Representatives Health & Aging Committee about HB 4 on February 18, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Ken Hale.)

kelsey kresser

Kelsey Kresser is a second-year Doctor of Pharmacy candidate at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy.


6 thoughts on “Naloxone Dispensing in Ohio

  1. My concern is:
    *It will be used by addicts to see how much further they can push their usage. Having less fear of overdose is not a good thing.
    *It could send someone into immediate withdrawal. Withdrawal can also be a very serious reaction, with no relief until the Naloxone is out of the system.
    *Although pharmacists may be aware of the persons who may need this at some point in their lives, they also know these same people may not be able to keep it out of the hands of children or others who could be injured by it.
    *The scope of Pharmacists today is much greater than even 10 years ago. When you graduate with a doctorate degree, of course you want to use your professional knowledge…But an intern should NEVER be allowed to dispense any medication. That is simply an unacceptable scenario.

    • Debra I think you need to educate yourself. I don’t know if you have ever had to deal with a Heroin addict. So I am going to educate you. First off no addict is going to “push their usage having less fear of overdose” The last thing an addict wants is for someone to administer Narcan to them and f#ck up their high. Second administering Narcan does not send them into immediate withdrawal. It will immediately counter act the heroin. Because of ignorant people like you this life saving antidote is difficult to obtain. All I can say to you is I pray you never have a loved one addicted to Heroin and they can’t be saved with Narcan because people like you were uneducated

  2. Debra…..where in the hell did you educate yourself on Narcan? Do not post ignorant and uneducated because you will be schooled by a butt ton of parents who have lost a child or has a child battling addiction. I really need to know which Naloxone training you took so we can prevent further uneducated people from spewing ignorance from their mouths.

  3. Debra, I lost my oldest son as Marca wasn’t an option .without it they do die.i have saved my other two because it was given need to educate yourself before you speak.

  4. Wow you are really way off base. First of all the addict never thinks he will overdose. The are either to numb or to high to have a rational thought. They think they are indestructible. If your child had asthma and couldn’t breathe what if you were not allowed to get an inhaler. Addiction is a disease. Plain and simple. And we all pray to God that we never have to use it one our loved one. Probably in all truthfulness we wont have that chance. But if it saves even one life then it is worth it. And why should an intern not be allowed to dispense it. Support groups – non medical people – people who have lost a child – give it away free here. Get off your high opinionated horse and start advocating for help and support for these addicts. But if you cant do that then how bout keeping your opinion to yourself. You may actually convince others that what you say is true.

  5. The World Health Organization recommended widespread training and use of Narcan to combat the opiate epidemic from claiming untold numbers of lives. Those folks are brilliant. Many people became addicted from a prescribed course of medication due an illness or an injury. Addiction is not a choice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *