The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Narcan, the naloxone medication that rapidly reverses the effects of opioid overdose, for use without a prescription in March. This decision means that the life-saving medication to reverse an opioid overdose can now be sold directly to consumers in places like drug stores, convenience stores, grocery stores and gas stations, as well as online.
Arizonans are dying at alarming rates due to illicit fentanyl, and reports of overdoses and poisonings continue to proliferate in the state. The public availability of naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug known as Narcan, is important as communities struggle with deaths caused by the opioid epidemic.
In time for National Fentanyl Awareness Day on Tuesday, May 9, the Arizona Opioid Assistance and Referral (OAR) Line and Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) announce the addition of naloxone into automated external defibrillator (AED) boxes in the AZDHS office in downtown Phoenix.
“The OAR Line and Arizona Poison Centers have encouraged Arizona employers and public arenas to add naloxone kits to their AEDs and are happy that AZDHS has started to do this,” said Maureen Roland, RN, managing director at the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center in Phoenix.
Many experts support this approval of naloxone, as it’s part of a much larger harm reduction movement. Harm reduction is an approach that emphasizes engaging directly with people who use drugs to prevent overdose and infectious disease transmission, improve the physical, mental and social wellbeing of those served, and offer low-threshold options for accessing substance use disorder treatment and other healthcare services.
“We hope other offices, sports arenas and healthcare facilities will also start having naloxone available for the public to use in case of an opioid overdose,” said Steve Dudley, PharmD, director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center in Tucson. “These kits will surely save more lives as we continue to battle this epidemic.”
The OAR Line is funded by AZDHS and operated by the two Arizona poison and drug information centers at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy in Tucson and at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix. The OAR Line provides free, confidential 24/7/365 assistance and advise for all questions and injuries related to opioids and opioid use disorders. The OAR Line can be reached by calling 888-688-4222 or here.
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