California Requires Doctors to Prescribe Naloxone to Patients Taking OpioidsDylan Romero
Naloxone, the life-saving opioid overdose drug, has become more and more commonly available to the general public. Recent legislation has protected those who administer it from legal recourse and required pharmacies to offer it without a prescription. Today, new co-prescribing laws in California and eight other progressive states require doctors to discuss the dangers of opioid overdose with high-risk patients.
Co-Prescribing Naloxone with Opioids
These co-prescribing laws work by encouraging that physicians must offer a prescription for naloxone alongside any written script for opioid medication. While patients are free to decide whether they would like to fill the prescription at all, advocates maintain that the offer of a “rescue drug” creates a teachable moment that underscores the potential dangers of opioid misuse.
One of the most treacherous misconceptions about opioids and other prescription drugs is that because a physician has recommended their use, the substances are 100% safe to consume. Even when used appropriately, opioid medications are insidiously addictive. The new co-prescribing laws encourage doctor-patient dialogue about appropriate precautions and warning signs that a problem has developed.
Even physicians, who typically resist government-mandated medical requirements, have signed on to this new initiative. “By offering a naloxone prescription to a patient, the physician is saying ‘I’m so concerned this medication might kill you that you need an antidote in the house, so a family member can rescue you.’ That gets their attention,” says Andrew Kolodny, director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, an organization that promotes safe painkiller prescribing, and co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University.
According to the PEW Charitable Trust, from 1999 to 2017, almost 218,000 people died in the United States due to prescription opioid-related overdoses. In more than 40% of these cases, bystanders were present, but naloxone was very rarely administered by a layperson. For this reason, the fight has begun to get the life-saving drug into the hands of those most likely to witness an overdose: the friends and family of those taking long-term dosages of painkillers.
Concerns About Cost
Unfortunately, there may be a side effect associated with an uptick in naloxone prescriptions. Some critics have expressed concern that this increase could result in a skyrocketing in the cost of naloxone-related healthcare. However, this could be mitigated through public programs and other subsidies.
Additionally, it is estimated that 48 million more doses would be needed if all fifty states required doctors to adhere to new co-prescribing recommendations. Fortunately, Emergent Biosolutions, maker of Narcan, released a statement that the company is prepared to meet this increased demand. While supply and demand both cause some level of concern for the general public, there are stopgaps in place to control these factors.
Many individuals balk at the price of an EpiPen-like solution called Evzio, which costs over $4,000. The Virginia-based manufacturer behind the drug, Kaléo, was reported by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to have increased the drug’s price more than 600% as the opioid epidemic worsened. Luckily, cost-effective options for naloxone are becoming more widely available. While a two-pack of name-brand Narcan costs $125, an off-label nasal spray is just $40. This April, the FDA approved a generic, over-the-counter version of the naloxone nasal spray that does not require any assembly. The most important aspect of naloxone is that it is on hand when needed – the delivery method is secondary.
California Opioid Detox and Treatment
Opioid addiction requires an intensive level of care in a highly structured environment. Research shows that ongoing support in an accredited treatment facility can create better outcomes for those seeking lasting recovery. To learn more about Concise Recovery Center’s 24/7 care and group support, call 877-347-3549 today.