Tuesday, August 30, 2016
By Marc Kovac
A thousand pharmacies across the state are now offering an overdose-reversing drug, a little more than a year after a new state law took effect allowing access to supplies without a prescription.
State health officials announced the milestone Monday, noting the ready availability to naloxone in 79 Ohio counties.
Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, blocks the effects of heroin and other opioids. As of mid-July 2015, naloxone can be purchased from participating pharmacies by those addicted to drugs or their family members or friends without written prescriptions.
Many law-enforcement agencies and emergency responders also have stocked up on naloxone and are using the drug regularly to treat overdoses.
“Increasing the availability of naloxone is essential in preventing fatal drug overdoses impacting our state,” Steven W. Schierholt, director of the state pharmacy board, said in a released statement.
Attorney General Mike DeWine has said that the number of unintentional drug overdoses in the state would be even higher without naloxone. According to the Ohio Department of Health, nearly 20,000 doses of naloxone were administered last year, up from about 7,200 two years earlier.
Last week, state health officials announced that a record 3,050 Ohioans had died from overdoses last year, up from 2,531 in 2014.
Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic narcotic that users are mixing with heroin, was a big driver of the increase, accounting for 1,155 unintentional overdose deaths.
Heroin was the second-biggest driver of Ohio’s results, accounting for 1,424 deaths.