Lt. Gov. Calley encourages more pharmacies to register to carry life-saving naloxone for Michiganders

Fifty-six percent of pharmacies are registered to carry the overdose antidote

Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018

LANSING, Mich. – As part of Opioid Addiction Awareness Week, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is encouraging Michigan pharmacies to carry naloxone under the state’s standing order for the life-saving overdose antidote.

“Having naloxone on hand can be the difference between life and death,” Calley said. “While it’s great that more than half of pharmacies have registered, I encourage others to get on board and participate so that we can save more lives and beat this epidemic.”

Michigan has had a standing order in place for naloxone since May 2017. Since then, pharmacies across the state have dispensed 13,009 orders of naloxone; 4,533 through the standing order and 8,476 through prescriptions from physicians.

Currently, 56 percent, or 1,551 of the state’s 2,769 pharmacies with controlled substance licenses are registered to dispense naloxone under the standing order. 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.

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.

From July to Oct. 1 of this year, Michigan pharmacies dispensed 2,681 orders of naloxone. Of those orders, 1,159 were filled under the standing order issued by Dr. Eden Wells, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief medical executive. The remaining orders were filled through prescriptions from other physicians.

In the previous quarter, from April to July 1, 3,174 orders were filled, 1,068 of which were under the standing order. 

“Giving people who are at risk of opioid overdose and their loved ones who are there to assist them better access to naloxone remains an important part of the state’s coordinated strategy for addressing the opioid epidemic,” said Wells. “The standing order has the potential to save lives.”

The standing order allows registered pharmacies to dispense the overdose-reversing 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.

Similar to the rest of the nation, Michigan has seen a dramatic increase in opioid-related deaths. From 1999 to 2017, more than 9,200 people have died from an opioid overdose with more than 60 percent of those deaths occurring since 2010. According to preliminary data, there were 1,941 opioid-related deaths in 2017.

The state is using every available tool to combat the opioid epidemic. The collaborative efforts of state agencies amplify Michigan’s efforts related to prevention and treatment of patients, education of health professionals and enforcement of anyone who overprescribes. Efforts include:

  • A new one-stop shop website (Michigan.gov/opioids) with all helpful information and resources on the epidemic.
  • Providing online resources for patients, health professionals and communities about prevention and treatment of opioid abuse.
  • The Michigan Automated Prescription System, which 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 michigan.gov/opioids.

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