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NY Pharmacies To Dispense Opiod Overdose Antidote Without Prescription

Charles Krupa

750 independent pharmacies in New York will soon be able to dispense Naloxone, an antidote to opioid overdoses, without a prescription.

People used to have to schedule doctors' visits to get prescription drugs, like flu vaccines. But for years now, many pharmacists have been able to vaccinate customers right at the store under a standing medical order. That’s when a doctor writes one prescription to cover all customers at pharmacies across the state.

Dr. Sharon Stancliff is medical director at the Harm Reduction Coalition, a nonprofit that treats addiction. She says pharmacies in New York will take the same approach to dispensing Naloxone. She’s writing the standing medical order prescription to New York’s pharmacies for the drug.

“They will treat it pretty much like they might perhaps treat vaccines. Somebody walks in and says that they would like the Naloxone,” Stancliff says. “The pharmacy will check and see if the insurance covers it and make sure the person knows what to do with the Naloxone, like how to recognize a potential opioid overdose, how to call 9-1-1, what to do when the person wakes up.”

Stancliff says friends and family of people using opioids like heroin can be the first responders during an overdose because they can administer the antidote before emergency responders arrive. She says a matter of minutes could save a person’s life. 

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.