Olympia, WA – On Wednesday, Washington State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy signed a statewide standing order for naloxone, the medication which can reverse an opioid overdose. This order works like a prescription and allows any person or organization in the state to get Naloxone from a pharmacy.

In a release from the Department of Health, they say that they encourage anyone who is at risk of experiencing or witnessing an opioid overdose to carry Naloxone. 

“Making it easier to access and distribute this lifesaving medication to people who need it is an important step in addressing the opioid crisis and reducing overdose deaths in our state,” said Dr. Lofy. “In 2018, 710 Washington residents died of an opioid overdose.”

People who want to get Naloxone can use the standing order at any pharmacy in the state without a prescription from a health care provider.

Opioids, like heroin and fentanyl can cause a person’s breathing to slow or stop. Naloxone works as an injection or nasal spray and can temporarily block the effects of the drugs.

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The DOH says that Naloxone is safe and does not have serious side effects if accidentally given to someone who is not experiencing an opioid overdose. 

They say that if you think someone is experiencing an overdose, but aren’t sure what kind of drugs they may have taken, use Naloxone.

In the release they say to call your pharmacy to see if they have Naloxone available and check your insurance coverage. The DOH says that most commercial health insurance plans cover at least one form of Naloxone, but coverage and costs vary. Apple Health (Medicaid) clients can get Naloxone at no cost.

The standing order will also make it easier for organizations working with people who may need Naloxone to get and distribute the medication. 

Organizations interested in getting Naloxone under the standing order need to notify the department. The department will keep a list of organizations and notify them if there are changes to the order.

Since February 2019, the department has also managed an Overdose Education & Naloxone Distribution Program to distribute naloxone kits to programs statewide for distribution to their communities. Within the first year of the program, the department expects to deliver 11,000 Naloxone kits. This work is funded in part by a federal opioid grant managed by the Washington State Health Care Authority.

These efforts are part of the state’s comprehensive opioid response, which is focused on preventing opioid misuse, identifying and treating opioid use disorder, preventing deaths from overdose and using data to monitor and support these efforts.

You can help! Make sure you know the signs of overdose and what to do, and carry Naloxone if you or someone you know might need it.