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Md. makes overdose drug available without a prescription

A vial of Naloxone, which can be used to block the potentially fatal effects of an opioid overdose, is shown Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, at an outpatient pharmacy at the University of Washington. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

WASHINGTON — A prescription drug that can reverse an opioid overdose now is being made available to Marylanders without a prescription under a standing order by Maryland’s deputy secretary for public health services.

Previously, naloxone, which is sometimes referred to by the brand name Narcan, was only made available to people trained in opioid overdose response or certified under the Maryland Overdose Response Program.

“By allowing even more people access to naloxone, we’re helping to save lives,” said Clay Stamp, executive director of the Opioid Operational Command Center, in a news release.

“We must remember though, that ultimately, those suffering from the disease of addiction or substance use disorder must be linked to additional treatment to aid in their recovery,” Stamp said.

The Opioid Operational Command Center was created in January to help state and local public health, human services, education and public safety departments in Maryland work together to fight the growing heroin and opioid crisis.

The new order expanding access to naloxone allows Maryland-licensed pharmacists to dispense two doses of naloxone and the paraphernalia needed to administer it.

But it takes multiple doses of naloxone to counter drugs more potent than heroin, such as fentanyl, that are responsible for a growing number of overdose deaths.

That has state health officials warning and reminding you to always call 911 or take someone to a hospital’s emergency department for help in any overdose situation.

The new order stems from a heroin and opioid state of emergency declared by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in March.

Maryland residents who need help finding treatment resources should visit MdDestinationRecovery.org, BeforeItsTooLateMD.org or call the Maryland Crisis Hotline, which provides 24/7 support, at 1-800-422-0009.


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