Pharmacies looking to prescribe drug that reverses heroin overdoses
Last year, 1,000 Kentuckians died from heroin dose. Training on Thursday aims to bring that number down, saving lives and combating Kentucky’s heroin addiction problem.
That’s where the drug naloxone comes in. It reverses the effects of a heroin overdose. New legislation allows pharmacists to fill orders for it without a prescription.
Local emergency responders say the number of patients they treat with the drug is increasing.
In 2014, paramedics had 26 cases where they had to give a patients naloxone. In 2015, that number jumped to 84. These numbers come from Mercy EMS in Paducah, that’s just one area ambulance service. They say it’s one of the top 10 drugs they use on patients.
Treating narcotic overdoses is nothing new to Paducah paramedic J.C. Curtis.
"They all kind of run together after 15 years," Curtis said.
In many of those cases the drug naloxone, or known by the mane Narcan, is used to save a patient’s life by reversing the overdose.
"It’s a good thing. It’s certainly proactive," Curtis said.
A Kentucky law passed in May aims to give more heroin addicts access to it.
Under this legislation, any person can walk into a pharmacy and get the medication without a prescription.
"You can come in to me instead of scheduling an appointment, and you have to wait two months to see a prescriber," Strawberry Hills Pharmacist Clay Cecil said.
Cecil says pharmacies like Strawberry Hills are still learning about how and when to prescribe naloxone.
"You’re not just handing them medication. You’re providing hand outs and training so they can use it," Cecil said.
Cecil says it takes hard work through training and certification to prescribe the drug, but it’s well worth it in the end.
"It’s another way for pharmacists to improve the overall public health," Cecil said.
Medics at Mercy say the drug should be a last resort because, like any drug, it has side affects. In the end, they hope it can save many lives.
Pharmacists have to apply to be able to sell this drug, then become certified within 30 days. They also have to have their protocol for dispensing the drug approved by a physician.
They don’t have to report to law enforcement. It does, however, have to be documented that they dispensed the drug.
Events and meetings are being held statewide to educate pharmacists on the drug.
The Advancing Pharmacy Practice in Kentucky Coalition is offering special training on naloxone during a statewide tour. The tour visits the following cites:
Oct. 27 – Owensboro
Oct. 29 – Lexington
Nov. 3 – Pikeville
Nov. 12 – London/Corbin
Nov. 19 – Louisville
In addition to the statewide tour dates, the coalition is holding statewide meetings and events looking at naloxone on the following dates:
Oct. 11 – Jefferson County Academy of Pharmacy, 2015 Fall Seminar, Sullivan University, Louisville
Oct. 23 – UK College of Pharmacy and Sullivan University College of Pharmacy Preceptors Meeting, College of Pharmacy, Lexington
Nov. 14 – Kentucky Pharmacists Association Legislative Conference, Hyatt Regency, Lexington