Public health officials, attorneys, policy-makers and advocates have reached out to the Network with requests for legal assistance. Below are some of these requests and the responses given by Network attorneys. To protect privacy, names are not included in the examples. In addition, the Network will not share an example if a requestor asks for his or her request to be withheld.
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All 50 states and the District of Columbia have now modified their laws to increase access to naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose to heroin or other opioid painkillers. The Network was recently asked about the number of states in which naloxone can be purchased “over the counter”. While there are a wide variety of steps that states, localities, and private businesses can take to increase access to naloxone, they cannot make it available “over the counter” or “without a prescription.”
Opioid overdose is at epidemic levels in the United States. It is estimated that over 33,000 Americans lose their lives from opioid overdose. Opioid overdose mortality is preventable with the timely administration of naloxone and the provision of emergency medical care. Naloxone is a prescription medication, making it difficult for the drug to be readily available by those who need it. In response, many states have made an effort to reduce barriers to accessing naloxone.
A requestor recently contacted the Network with several questions regarding naloxone access.
Naloxone blocks or reverses the effects of opioids and can save the life of someone overdosing if given in a timely manner. A public health professional recently asked the Network if it is legal for a layperson to distribute naloxone injection equipment in Texas. And whether pharmacists in Texas are liable for selling injection equipment if they suspect the person will use it to inject drugs.
A healthcare provider from Rhode Island recently contacted the Network for information on the differences, if any, between privacy protections for pharmacy records and prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) records in law enforcement investigations.
A requestor from Washington state recently asked the Network for information on the conditions under which Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) can prescribe buprenorphine for treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD).
A health scientist at a national public health organization recently contacted the Network for information about states that have instituted drug overdose review teams. A number of states have committees at the state or local level to review child drug fatalities, but only four states have legislation authorizing overdose fatality review panels.
Does Colorado law provide liability protection for a registered nurse (RN) to administer naloxone when “off the clock” – that is to say, when not administering naloxone as part of the RN’s job duties?
Opioid overdoses are typically reversible through the timely administration of the medication naloxone and the provision of emergency care. The Network was recently contacted by a requestor who asked about liability for the administration of naloxone by law enforcement officers in Louisiana.
A drug overdose prevention advocate contacted the Network with a question about the overdose prevention trainings their organization conducts in Florida. The requestor wanted to know if, at the end of the training session, they could dispense naloxone under a recently passed state law that permits naloxone to be prescribed via standing order.
Many states have taken action to make naloxone, a medication that reverses the effects of opioid drugs, more available to the public as well as first responders. The laws regarding the prescribing and dispensing of naloxone vary by state, but most states have made efforts to make it easier for medical professionals to prescribe naloxone and for laypeople to receive naloxone for use in overdose reversal. Maine is one of the 27 states that permits naloxone to be dispensed via standing order. The Network was recently contacted by a nonprofit employee who asked for help finding the specific language of Maine’s standing order law.