Naloxone, a medication used to prevent overdose from opioids, can be legally obtained at Georgia pharmacies without a prescription, after Gov. Nathan Deal directed the Georgia Pharmacy Board and Department of Public Health to issue what amounts to a “statewide prescription.”
Also known as an “opioid antagonist,” naloxone is administered when a drug user begins to show the effects of an overdose, countering those effects, and potentially saving the victim's life.
“Naloxone is used in opioid overdoses to counteract life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system, allowing an overdose victim to breathe normally,” according to the Harm Reduction Coalition. The drug can be administered through a nasal spray or injection.
“The state of Georgia and the country as a whole are currently experiencing an opioid abuse epidemic. In the fight against this trend, naloxone has come to be considered an important and life-saving tool in treating opioid overdoses,” Deal said in a statement Wednesday.
In 2014, Deal signed a law allowing doctors to prescribe naloxone to “a person at risk of experiencing an opioid related overdose,” or even friends and family of someone who might overdose.
Pain management clinics, first responders, law enforcement, and other organizations are also able to receive prescriptions for an unlimited number of doses.
“We will continue working to implement similar efforts to save lives across the state,” said Deal, who intends to introduce legislation in the 2017 session “to continue fighting the opioid epidemic plaguing Georgia,” according to the statement.
More than 1,200 people died of an overdose in Georgia in 2014. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were often at least a part of the reason for those deaths.