New naloxone laws seek to prevent opioid overdoses

At least 46 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that allow pharmacies to provide private citizens with naloxone without a prescription. However, some states are going even further by requiring doctors to give or at least offer a prescription for the overdose rescue drug to patients taking high doses of opioids.

At least 46 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that allow pharmacies to provide private citizens with naloxone without a prescription. However, some states are going even further by requiring doctors to give or at least offer a prescription for the overdose rescue drug to patients taking high doses of opioids. Although patients do not have to fill the naloxone prescription, doctors say that the offer of a rescue drug underscores the dangers of long-term opioid use. "By offering a naloxone prescription to a patient, the physician is saying 'I'm so concerned this medication might kill you that you need an antidote in the house, so a family member can rescue you.' That gets their attention," said Andrew Kolodny, co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University and director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. Legal experts believe the new coprescribing laws—which have been enacted in Arizona, California, Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington—are likely to spread. Also, an advisory committee to FDA voted in December to recommend that all physicians coprescribe naloxone for patients on high doses of opioids.