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Lt. Gov. Calley: Orders for overdose reversal drug naloxone more than double in past three months

Thursday, July 19, 2018

More than 3,000 orders dispensed across the state

LANSING, Mich. – Naloxone has been in high demand across the state over the past three months, with Michigan pharmacies dispensing 3,174 orders between April and July 1, Lt. Gov. Calley announced today.

“The addiction epidemic continues to impact every community in our state and I’m glad that Michiganders are taking preventative action in having naloxone on-hand to prepare for potential overdoses,” Calley said. “While we have made progress, we have a long way to go and equipping people with naloxone is a great step. Together we can continue to fight this epidemic and ensure more second chances and fewer funerals.” 

This increase is more than double the number of orders filled in the prior reporting quarter. Of those orders filled, 1,068 were under a standing order by MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Eden Wells, with the remaining 2,106 orders filled through prescriptions from physicians. Between Jan. and April 1 of this year, 1,462 orders were filled; 468 through the standing order and 994 through other physician prescriptions.

“This increase illustrates the importance of the standing order and ready access to naloxone,” Wells said. “In the case of an overdose, seconds count. Those in danger of an opioid-related overdose or their loved ones need immediate access to this life-saving drug.”

The standing order has been in effect since May 2017.It is part of the state’s strategy for addressing the opioid epidemic in Michigan that came out of a special task force created by Gov. Rick Snyder and chaired by Calley. It allows registered pharmacies to dispense naloxone to those at risk of an opioid-related overdose, as well as family members, friends and other persons who may be able to assist a person at risk of overdose. Registered pharmacies are required to track the amount of naloxone dispensed and report these numbers to MDHHS on a quarterly basis.

More than 60 percent of the state’s 2,797 pharmacies with controlled substance licenses in Michigan are registered to dispense naloxone under the standing order for a total of 1,690. Since May 2017, pharmacies across the state have dispensed 10,328 orders of naloxone; 3,374 through the standing order and 6,954 through prescriptions from physicians.

Similar to the rest of the nation, Michigan has seen a dramatic increase in opioid-related deaths. From 1999 to 2016, 7,300 people have died from an opioid overdose with more than 60 percent of those deaths occurring since 2010.

Previously, naloxone was available only to individuals who received a prescription from their doctor. In recent years, law enforcement and other first responders have increased their capacity to administer naloxone to address opioid overdoses – the majority which occur due to prescription painkillers, fentanyl and heroin.

Through the standing order, individuals can receive naloxone from a registered pharmacy without having to see a healthcare provider. People who obtain naloxone from pharmacies receive information on steps for responding to an opioid overdose and important information about where to go for further treatment.

The state is using every available tool to combat the opioid epidemic. The collaborative efforts of state agencies amplifies Michigan’s efforts related to prevention and treatment of patients, education of health professionals and enforcement of over-prescribers.

Efforts include:

  • Providing online resources for patients, health professionals and communities about prevention and treatment of opioid abuse
  • The Michigan Automated Prescription System provides real-time prescription data and resources to better assess a patient’s risk for substance use disorder.
  • Assistance with proper drug disposal of unwanted medications.
  • Michigan State Police posts serving as drug-take back sites and providing the Angel Program for individuals struggling with addiction.

For more information about opioids and the additional steps residents can take to protect themselves and loved ones, visit