Naloxone available at UNT pharmacy without a prescription

Article Originally Published by Rebekah Schulte on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by on North Texas Daily

The UNT Student Health and Wellness Center pharmacy now allows students to purchase Naloxone, a temporary treatment to an opioid overdose in emergency situations, without a prescription needed as a precaution of the opioid crisis, according to the center’s executive director.

To make Naloxone, also known as Narcan, available to students, Executive Director Herschel Voorhees signed off on the State Naloxone Standing Order, which is what allows the drug to be dispensed without an individual prescription. The standing order was presented by UNT’s Director of Pharmacy Karen Knotts, who trained at the University of Texas at Austin.

At the UNT Pharmacy, Naloxone is available to students with insurance for $40. However, students without insurance pay $136 for Naloxone, Knotts said. It comes in the form of nasal spray, an injector via a needle or an auto-injector that is administered into the upper leg.

“If even one life can be saved, then I believe this initiative is necessary,” Knotts said. “It provides access to Naloxone not only for users but for friends. It is all about access. It is important to keep in mind that Naloxone will not adversely affect someone to whom it is given that is not overdosing on opioids.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that opioids were involved in 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017, which is 67.8 percent of all drug overdose deaths.

Denton criminal defense lawyer George Roland said UNT providing Naloxone is a good first step in addressing the opioid crisis. Roland regularly represents students at UNT Code of Conduct hearings defending those accused of all criminal charges, including drug charges.

“It’s looking at giving people a second chance to survive what would otherwise be a fatal overdose with hope that they will then seek out substance abuse treatment,” Roland said. “I think there’s an increasing scientific and medical literature that suggest people who have issues with substance abuse are not doing so because they want to or because they just enjoy doing them, that they’re doing them because their body has become physically addicted and dependent on them.”

In June 2015, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 1462, which contained a number of provisions designed to make Naloxone more readily available to the general public. This law went into effect on Sept. 1, 2015.

A prescription of Naloxone sits on the counter in the UNT pharmacy. Image by: Samuel Gomez.

The medication has been available to students with a prescription for two years and is available to students without a prescription this year, Knotts said.

“I think Naloxone is a good way to to take care of the problem when it’s gone too far or when it’s become a super problem,” said Destiney Kelley, a pharmacy student employee and psychology junior. “But I think the problem starts when you notice yourself overly using, but you don’t notice yourself overly using until you have already overly used, so I think this will be a positive thing for UNT campus as a precaution.”

The CDC estimates that the total cost of opioid misuse in the U.S. is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment and criminal justice involvement.

Opioid overdose rates began to increase as early as the 1990s, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Voorhees said there is “plenty of blame to go around” for the increase in people who become dependent on opiates.

“We can’t totally blame the victims — and when I say victims [I mean] people who are having a dependency on opiates,” Voorhees said. “There has been some blame in the news about Big Pharma advertising and marketing heavily for the opiates for pain. And then we have to lay some at the feet of doctors because there are some doctors out there who do not properly monitor people that they are prescribing pain medicine for, so there’s enough blame to go around for everybody.”

There have not been any requests for Naloxone at UNT so far, Knotts said, but she hopes students will be made aware of the availability of the drug through advertisements, as well as it being posted in the pharmacy.

“People with substance abuse issues have a disease,” Roland said. “It’s not like other cases where someone, for whatever reason, is trying to break the law consistently. And if we can provide them a substance abuse treatment, we can very realistically provide them with the option of never again encountering the justice system.”

Featured Image: Naloxone is now available to students at the UNT pharmacy without a prescription. The nasal spray helps prevent the effects of opioid overdose. Image by: Samuel Gomez.

Source: North Texas Daily