Association between state laws facilitating pharmacy distribution of naloxone and risk of fatal overdose

New research suggests that naloxone access laws (NALs) that give direct authority to pharmacists may be linked to reductions in opioid-related mortality. The population-based study examined state-level changes in both fatal and nonfatal overdoses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia from the 2005–16 National Vital Statistics System.

New research suggests that naloxone access laws (NALs) that give direct authority to pharmacists may be linked to reductions in opioid-related mortality. The population-based study examined state-level changes in both fatal and nonfatal overdoses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia from the 2005–16 National Vital Statistics System. The data found that state NALs that provided direct dispensing authority to pharmacists were associated with significant reductions in fatal overdoses. The outcomes of these laws increased over time. The researchers note there was "less evidence that other types of NALs matter, including standing orders." The authors, from the Rand Corporation, conclude: "Our research highlights the value of naloxone distribution as a tool in the fight against the rise in fatal opioid overdoses, but it also suggests that the type of policy is important for making the tool useful. Enabling distribution through various sources, or requiring gatekeepers, will not be as beneficial." Future study should consider the likely scope such distribution policies could have when gatekeepers are removed.