More Access Granted to Naloxone in Arkansas

Governor Hutchinson announces protocol for the life-saving overdose medication.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Governor Hutchinson, alongside Kirk Lane, DHS State Director of Drug Prevention, and other administration officials, announced the creation of the state’s Naloxone Standing Protocol.
 
The Naloxone Standing Protocol was developed pursuant to Act 284 of 2017 by Senators Cecile Bledsoe and Lance Eads and Representative Justin Boyd. Similar to an immunization order, it allows licensed pharmacists in Arkansas to order, dispense and/or administer naloxone without a prescription as therapy, providing greater access to more Arkansans and first responders in the event of a drug overdose. 
 
Dr. Nate Smith, Director and State Health Officer of the Arkansas Department of Health, will serve as the prescriber of record for the protocol.  
 
“The effects of opioid addiction on individuals, families, and our state are staggering,” said Governor Hutchinson. “Reports of drug-related injuries and deaths across the nation are increasing, and sadly, we’ve seen the tragic effects of this epidemic on the communities in our state, as well.
 
“The Naloxone Standing Protocol is just one step Arkansas is taking to fight back by allowing easier access to this life-saving medication and helping to reduce the number of lives lost to opioid abuse. There is no doubt that putting Naloxone in the hands of more Arkansans, including our first responders, will save lives.”
 
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from prescription opioids like Oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone have more than quadrupled since 1999. One half of all opioid overdose deaths can be attributed to prescription opioids. 
 
“Establishing a Standing Protocol for Naloxone in Arkansas will increase access to a proven life-saving measure that will benefit Arkansans struggling with substance abuse disorders that involve opioids,” said Kirk Lane, DHS State Director of Drug Prevention. “This protocol was made possible by the collective effort of our legislators, the medical community and state government working together to solve this issue in Arkansas under the leadership of Governor Asa Hutchinson.
 
“Establishing this Naloxone Standing Protocol is an important step toward achieving our goal of reducing the misuse and abuse of drugs in Arkansas.”
 
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist delivered via injection or nasal spray that is used to block or reverse an opioid overdose, whether it is a powerful prescription pain medication or a street drug, such as heroin. Naloxone will have no effect on respiratory depression caused from non-opioid substances.  
 
This standing order is one of the recommendations made recently by the National Opioid Task Force to President Trump as a necessary change to assist is the reducing the opioid epidemic. In 2015, the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 1222, known as the Good Samaritan Act, to cover liability of the use of this substance by trained individuals.

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