GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Naloxone, or Narcan, a drug meant to reverse opioid overdoses, has been proven effective. But the problem was, for many law enforcement and medical professionals, it wasn’t easy enough to find. First responders and police officers had access to injections, but for the public, opportunities to obtain the life-saving drug were scarce.
In May, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill allowing accredited pharmacies in the state to accompany opioid prescriptions with a dosage of Narcan. It’s a failsafe meant for emergencies only, that’s pleasing many pharmacists in the area.
“This will save lives, guaranteed,” said Dr. David Miller, owner of Keystone Pharmacy in Grand Rapids. “Anybody who has narcotics in the house, in my opinion, should have a Narcan rescue kit with them.”
Opioid overdoses in Michigan rose 41% between 2009 and 2015, and Dr. Miller says the dosages aren’t just meant for addicts. While pharmacies still can – and are encouraged to – administer Narcan to those without prescriptions who need it, patients can have their insurance or Medicaid pay for it in one of three forms. The most expensive is an automated injector that provides verbal instructions for use. For a lower cost to your insurance, pharmacies will also offer Narcan in nasal spray form, and the cheapest option – a manual syringe injection. Dr. Miller says though they come in different forms, the effectiveness of the drug is the same. He was also careful to note, even the most vigilant of patients can be susceptible to overdoses.
“They’ll go to their doctor and the doctor might prescribe a sleeping pill, and then they might go to another doctor and the doctor might prescribe a muscle relaxer. And before you know it the body just can’t deal with it anymore and they’re in an overdose situation when they really didn’t mean to be,” said Dr. Miller. “I think this is an important rescue for anybody who is on narcotics because we don’t know when the body’s going to reach that tipping point and react.”
Not to mention, Dr. Miller added, the threat of curious children getting their hands on prescriptions.