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Walker Signs Order Allowing Pharmacists to Dispense Naloxone without Prescription

Governor Scott Walker joined state health officials at the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin annual meeting to announce the signing of a statewide naloxone standing order, which allows pharmacists to dispense the medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose without requiring individual prescriptions. 

Governor Walker signed Wisconsin Act 115 in December of 2015, to allow practitioners to prescribe an opioid antagonist to pharmacies under a standing order. This is the latest of the state’s efforts to combat opioid use, abuse, and overdose, which includes the HOPE (Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education) legislation package.

“In Wisconsin, and nationwide, we’re seeing lives lost and families shattered by opioid overdoses, whether from heroin or prescription painkillers, in our urban centers and rural areas,” said Governor Walker. “This standing order allows pharmacies the ability to make this life-saving drug more accessible for friends, family and loved ones of those at risk of overdose, and potentially open the door for treatment and recovery.”

Naloxone is a nonaddictive medication that blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and restores breathing. Administering naloxone to someone experiencing an overdose can provide the extra time needed for emergency responders to arrive on the scene.

“Naloxone is safe and effective. Newer ways to administer the drug make it easier to give naloxone in a life-and-death situation,” said Dr. Jon Meiman, Chief Medical Officer for the Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health in DHS’ Division of Public Health, who signed the standing order. “Allowing pharmacists to provide naloxone without a prescription can help reduce the number of deaths due to an opioid overdose. “

Opioid overdose deaths have steadily increased over the past 15 years in Wisconsin. In 2014, there were 392 deaths due to prescription drugs in Wisconsin and 266 due to heroin. Since 2009, opioid overdoses have exceeded car crashes as the leading cause of injury deaths in Wisconsin.

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