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June 27, 2018

Miller urges Iowans at risk to get opioid overdose antidote

State providing 4,000 free doses of Narcan on Friday

As Naloxone Access Day approaches on Friday, June 29, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller stresses the importance of Iowans — including legal users of prescription opioids — getting access to the overdose-reversing drug.

“Quite literally, naloxone may be someone’s only lifeline if they overdosed on prescription painkillers or heroin,” he said.

On Friday, nearly 370 Iowa pharmacies plan to hand out about 4,000 free doses of Narcan, a brand of naloxone.  The Iowa Department of Public Health purchased approximately 2,000 two-pack Narcan kits using federal grant funding. The normal cost for an individual to purchase the same kit from a pharmacy would be around $150.

People seeking the free doses will be asked to fill out this questionnaire. To access the list of participating pharmacies, visit http://bit.ly/2MrSNq3. To learn more about naloxone, visit https://idph.iowa.gov/mat/overdose.

Those who should have naloxone on hand include people who have been lawfully prescribed high doses of opioids, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams has emphasized that message in discussions with attorneys general around the nation. In April, Dr. Adams issued the first surgeon general advisory in 13 years to promote the importance of naloxone. He encouraged people at increased risk, their friends and family, health care practitioners and others to know how to use the overdose-reversing drug and keep it within reach.    

“There are two FDA-approved naloxone products for community use that are available by prescription, but too few community members are aware of the important role they can play to save lives,” Adams said in the advisory.

In addition to Friday’s naloxone giveaway, Iowa has acted to provide easier access to the antidote in other ways:

  • A state law passed in 2016 eased restrictions on naloxone, enabling adults at risk of opioid-related overdose, and their family and friends, to purchase the drug from a pharmacy without a prescription.

Iowa’s new Good Samaritan law can also save the lives of opioid users. House File 2377 provides legal protection for some drug users who call 911 to report an overdose.

Under Miller, the Attorney General’s Office has embarked on a multipronged effort to address opioid abuse in Iowa, including educating citizens and medical professionals. The office is also playing a major role in a multistate investigation into the manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid drugs as part of a widespread probe into the nation’s opioid epidemic.

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