Naloxone for opioid overdose prevention: pharmacists' role in community-based practice settings

Abby M Bailey, Daniel P Wermeling
Annals of Pharmacotherapy 2014, 48 (5): 601-6

BACKGROUND: Deaths related to opioid overdose have increased in the past decade. Community-based pharmacy practitioners have worked toward overcoming logistic and cultural barriers to make naloxone distribution for overdose prevention a standard and accepted practice.

OBJECTIVE: To describe outpatient naloxone dispensing practices, including methods by which practitioners implement dispensing programs, prescribing patterns that include targeted patient populations, barriers to successful implementation, and methods for patient education.

METHODS: Interviews were conducted with providers to obtain insight into the practice of dispensing naloxone. Practitioners were based in community pharmacies or clinics in large metropolitan cities across the country.

RESULTS: It was found that 33% of participating pharmacists practice in a community-pharmacy setting, and 67% practice within an outpatient clinic-based location. Dispensing naloxone begins by identifying patient groups that would benefit from access to the antidote. These include licit users of high-dose prescription opioids (50%) or injection drug users and abusers of prescription medications (83%). Patients were identified through prescription records or provider screening tools. Dispensing naloxone required a provider's prescription in 5 of the 6 locations identified. Only 1 pharmacy was able to exercise pharmacist prescriptive authority within their practice.

CONCLUSION: Outpatient administration of intramuscular and intranasal naloxone represents a means of preventing opioid-related deaths. Pharmacists can play a vital role in contacting providers, provision of products, education of patients and providers, and dissemination of information throughout the community. Preventing opioid overdose-related deaths should become a major focus of the pharmacy profession.

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