Researchers at East Carolina University found that 61.7% of retail pharmacies in North Carolina have naloxone available without prescription. The study also found that some independent pharmacies or those in rural areas lack same-day availability or would not sell the medication without a prescription.
Also known as Narcan, the medication reverses the effects of an opioid overdose by blocking receptors in the brain and restoring breathing. The study found 75% of pharmacies that would sell naloxone said Medicaid or other forms of insurance could cover the cost, which ranges between $34 for intramuscular naloxone (injection) and $123 for intranasal spray. The study said naloxone availability was lower for independent pharmacies than chains.
According to a news release, North Carolina enacted a standing order in 2016 that allows pharmacies to dispense naloxone without a prescription. As of January 2019, North Carolina is one of 12 states in the U.S. that have implemented statewide standing orders for naloxone.
The ECU study was recently published online in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.