Naloxone to be available at Washington state pharmacies

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose, will be available for purchase without a prescription at Washington state pharmacies.

Washington State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy signed a statewide standing order for naloxone Wednesday to make the medication available.

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"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 Lofy. "In 2018, 710 Washington residents died of an opioid overdose."

Nalaxone is given as an injection or nasal spray to someone experiencing an overdose and temporarily blocks the effects of opioid drugs like prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl.

“Naloxone is very safe and does not have serious side effects if accidentally given to someone who is not experiencing an opioid overdose,” health officials said.

The Department of Health encourages anyone who is at risk of experiencing or witnessing an opioid overdose to carry naloxone.

Anyone can use the standing order to purchase Naloxone at any pharmacy in the state without a prescription from a health care provider, according to health officials.

“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,” health officials said.

However, the Department of Health is encouraging anyone interested in acquiring naloxone to call their pharmacy beforehand to check insurance coverage.

The standing order also will make it easier for organizations that work with people who may need naloxone to acquire and distribute the medication.

Organizations interested in getting naloxone under the standing order are asked to notify the Department of Health.