Naloxone, the overdose reversal drug, will be made available next week for New Yorkers at pharmacies throughout the state without a prescription to combat opioid overdoses, the state Department of Health commissioner announced.
The standing order for naloxone, or Narcan, will begin Monday, said Dr. Mary T. Bassett during a Western New York Harm Reduction Conference in Buffalo. More than 2,600 pharmacies statewide will be part of the standing order, the state health department said. There had been a "patchwork" of such standing orders before, the department said, but this order provides uniform authority for pharmacies to carry the drug and sell it without a prescription.
Locations can be found at https://providerdirectory.aidsinstituteny.org/.
“This is as close as we can get to naloxone being ‘over the counter’ without action being taken by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration,” Bassett said in a news release.
Additionally, the state health department's Naloxone Co-payment Assistance Program, or N-Cap, will cover co-payments of up to $40 or lower out-of-pocket expenses.
The announcement Thursday comes as the state, including Long Island, continues to fight an ongoing opioid crisis.
Newsday reported in April that in Suffolk there were 415 fatal overdoses in 2021, including 134 suspected deaths not yet confirmed by the county medical examiner. In 2020, there were 411 deaths, including 62 not yet cleared by the medical examiner.
Nassau officials said then there were 356 overdose deaths in 2021, including 200 suspected deaths not yet confirmed by the county medical examiner, and 287 in 2020, including dozens not formally cleared by the medical examiner.
Hundreds of Long Islanders were among the more than 100,000 people in the United States lost to opioid overdose during a 12-month period ending in April 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state health department wants to build on the Opioid Overdose Prevention initiative, launched in 2006, in which more than 900 nonmedical people have been trained to recognize and administer naloxone, said Chinazo Cunningham, Office of Addiction Services and Supports commissioner.
“Making it easier to obtain this lifesaving medication will mean more individuals have a meaningful chance to receive services and support to assist in improving their health,” Cunningham said in a news release.