Naloxone, an effective overdose reversal drug, has been around for years but it is only recently that authorities passed a law to make it available with no prescription.
The Washington state legislature recently amended the Good Samaritan Law to no longer require a prescription for the life-saving naloxone. Under the new rules, people who seek to reverse a potentially fatal drug overdose can get naloxone over the counter as long as the drug store has a collaborative contract with a doctor.
Local authorities hailed the new provision as more lives can now be saved. Rescuers can ask for naloxone to help a person experiencing an opioid overdose. Opioids include morphine, heroin, OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet.
State fire departments and police offciers are using the overdose reversal drug to help persons that experience opioid overdoses. The Tacoma Fire Department said that it has used the drug nearly 70 times six years ago and nearly 190 times last year. In Washington state, drug-related deaths are now more frequent than car crash fatalities.
Since the 1990s, drug-related deaths have skyrocketed. As of 2006, in the U.S. 38,000 people were killed by prescription or illegal drugs. The figures may now be even worse but 2006 is the last year with clear statistical data.
In 1999, 403 drug-related deaths were recorded in the state, and the number jumped to 761 eight years later. By contrast, there were 610 fatal crashes across the state the same year. Authorities have oftentimes argued that many of these deaths could have been prevented if rescuers hadn’t been afraid of prosecution or if drugs had been available without prescription.
Prescription painkillers often leave people addicted, and when these drugs are hard to attain or their price is too high, addicts turn to heroin. Two years ago, 153 people from Alaska, Washington, Idaho and Oregon were killed by overdoses every month.
Public health specialists are now concerned that naloxone will not be readily available in all locations. For instance, in one county only six drug stores offered the drug. Experts believe that this is because pharmacists are discouraged by the lack of demand.
Fortunately, earlier this summer, all Walgreens drug stores had naloxone on stock. In some areas, the drugstore chain has already started to sell the overdose antidote with no prescription.
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