By Dr. Jessica Badichek, PharmD
Naloxone (brand name Narcan®) is the primary reversal agent for opioid overdoses. It is known as an “opioid antagonist”. This means that it blocks the opioid receptor sites in the body and reverses the toxic effects of opioid overdose. Opioid overdose can lead to respiratory depression, unconsciousness, pinpoint pupils and if not reversed, death.
Any patient taking opioids may be at risk for overdose and requires access to naloxone. Patients coming out of “detox” centers may be at particular risk. This is because after a person is “detoxed” from opioid drugs, they may not have the tolerance for the drug that they once had. Therefore, if the patient returns to taking that opioid drug, they may take too much and overdose. Additionally, in recent years, illicit drugs such as heroin have been combined with potent synthetic opioids such as fentanyl or carfentanil, making the threshold for overdose much lower to pass.
This is why every patient that takes either prescribed opioids or illicit opioids should have access to naloxone with a family member, friend or relative that knows how to administer naloxone. Doctors can prescribe naloxone and instruct patients and family members on proper administration. In some cases, naloxone can also be available without a prescription at the pharmacy.
Our home state of West Virginia allows pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription when proper protocol and instructions are followed. This means patients are allowed increased access to this lifesaving medication.
Naloxone is typically utilized in an intranasal spray form. Patients and family members can easily be instructed on how to use naloxone and when use is appropriate. For more information on naloxone and proper administration – please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-888-644-8326 and we’ll provide you with a safety brochure!
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About the Author:
Dr. Jessica Badichek is the Director of Clinical Operations at CompreCareRx. With extensive knowledge of psychiatric therapeutics, substance use disorder therapies and pharmaceutical compounding, she is dedicated to providing optimal clinical care policies that focus on the needs of every individual patient. She has a passion for caring for those suffering from addiction and seeks to provide superior clinical care. She holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and is a registered pharmacist.