Naloxone scarce at pharmacies in NJ cities hurting from opioid crisis, researchers find

A study by researchers at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School found that pharmacies in larger and less affluent New Jersey cities lacked supplies of naloxone. Researchers contacted all of the pharmacies in 10 NJ cities in 2017 to determine if they had the generic or brand name version of naloxone in stock.

A study by researchers at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School found that pharmacies in larger and less affluent New Jersey cities lacked supplies of naloxone. Researchers contacted all of the pharmacies in 10 NJ cities in 2017 to determine if they had the generic or brand name version of naloxone in stock. Only one out of the six pharmacies in Atlantic City said it had naloxone in stock, the study found, and only one pharmacy out of every four in Camden did. While Camden had the lowest median household income of the 10 cities studied, Little Silver had the highest income, and two out of the town's three pharmacies had naloxone on their shelves. Senior study author Diane Calello, medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center, observes: "If you're asking somebody in a lower-income area to go in and buy an antidote that they may never need, that's a big ask. Although I don't know, that probably impacts stocking decisions in pharmacies in those areas." Gail Scott, manager of the Substance Use Disorders Institute at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, also points out that when people request naloxone under a standing order, it is often for a family member or a friend, so pharmacists may be reluctant to bill the customer's insurance policy. Scott notes that some insurers have policies allowing naloxone dispensed to "third-party caregivers" to be covered, and says more needs to be done to help pharmacists sift through the confusion around policies for dispensing and billing for naloxone under a standing order.