California Pharmacists Will Soon Dispense Naloxone for Opioid Overdose


California legislation will soon allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription for opioid overdose according to the Pharmacy Naloxone Bill (AB 1535).

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that competes and displaces opioids at opiod receptor sites. In opioid overdose, adults would take 0.4 to 2 mg IV every 2-3 minutes as needed. Repeated doses may be needed every 20 to 60 minutes, bit if no response is observed after 10 mg, the diagnosis should be questioned. Adverse reactions are mostly related to reversal of dependency/withdrawal including GI, cardiovascular, CNS and respiratory effects. 

Beginning January 1, 2015, California pharmacists can furnish naloxone to family members of patients at risk for overdose, those who might be in contact with someone at risk for OD, or anyone who requests the drug. Guidelines will be developed by the state's boards of pharmacy and medicine.

This is a great step for pharmacists combating a problem: drug overdoses.  Drug overdoses kill more people each year than either cars or guns. In 2010, the CDC reported, 38,329 people died of drug overdoses (mostly opioid related).

Read this article from back in February by Maia Szalavitz with Time Magazine, "Wider Use of Antidote Could Lower Overdose Deaths by Nearly 50%."

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