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More people will have access to naloxone under new state order

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The state wants more people in Michigan to have access to a drug that can save the life of someone who's overdosed on heroin or prescription painkillers.

A new state standing order pre-authorizes pharmacists to distribute naloxone, also known as Narcan, to anyone without a prescription. 

"It could be someone at risk for having an overdose or a friend, a loved one, a partner of someone who is concerned about a person at risk for an overdose," said Dr. Eden Wells, the state's chief medical officer.

Some pharmacies in Michigan have already been distributing the drug without a prescription under the order of a physician. The new state order allows pharmacies that don't have a relationship with a physician to do the same.

"As we continue our fight against opioid addiction, this order makes naloxone more accessible for those most likely to need it," Dr. Wells said. "This is a vital step in reducing deaths related to opioid addiction in Michigan. By allowing for shorter response times in emergency situations, we can help save lives," Wells said.

Opioids, including heroin and prescription drugs, accounted for 473 deaths in 2007, according to data from the state. In 2015, that number jumped to 1,275.

People who buy naloxone from a pharmacy under the state order will be given information about how to respond to an opioid overdose and where to seek treatment. 

Pharmacies will also be required to keep track of how much of the drug is dispensed and provide quarterly reports to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Rebecca Kruth is the host of All Things Considered at Michigan Public. She also co-hosts Michigan Public's weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.
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