Narcan, the brand name of naloxone, a drug used to reverse overdose in those who have taken opioids, will become available in Maine without a prescription from a doctor, as one keyword added to the bill last month would make it possible for pharmacists to prescribe the medicine.
News reports state Assistant Attorney General, Andrew Black, said in written testimony that “With no apparent federal appetite for reclassifying naloxone hydrochloride as an OTC drug, the only solution appeared to be to give pharmacists the narrow authority to prescribe naloxone.” The 2016 law allows pharmacists to dispense the overdose antidote to those who are at high risk of overdose on opioids and their families/friends. The Senate and House added the keyword “prescribe” to the law last month and approved the bill, making it lawful for pharmacists to prescribe the medicine. The previous bill used wording including “dispensing,” which the Attorney General’s Office said meant delivering a prescription drug without a prescription.
While the amended bill became law in Maine in June without Republican Governor, Paul LePage, ever signing it, now rules are being developed by the Maine Board of Pharmacy regarding pharmacies dispensing naloxone. The bill allowing naloxone to be available without a doctor’s prescription was passed over a year ago, however the delay, due to wording of the bill, has been frustrating according to Joseph Bruno, Pharmacy Board President who said that in Maine in 2016, 376 individuals lost their lives due to opioid overdoses.
In other states, CVS and Walgreens, major pharmacy chains who operate in Maine, already sell naloxone hydrochloride without a prescription.
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