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Ann Pharmacother. 2014 May;48(5):601-6. doi: 10.1177/1060028014523730. Epub 2014 Feb 12.

Naloxone for opioid overdose prevention: pharmacists' role in community-based practice settings.

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University of Kentucky HealthCare, Lexington, KY, USA.



Deaths related to opioid overdose have increased in the past decade. Community-based pharmacy practitioners have worked toward overcoming logistic and cultural barriers to make naloxone distribution for overdose prevention a standard and accepted practice.


To describe outpatient naloxone dispensing practices, including methods by which practitioners implement dispensing programs, prescribing patterns that include targeted patient populations, barriers to successful implementation, and methods for patient education.


Interviews were conducted with providers to obtain insight into the practice of dispensing naloxone. Practitioners were based in community pharmacies or clinics in large metropolitan cities across the country.


It was found that 33% of participating pharmacists practice in a community-pharmacy setting, and 67% practice within an outpatient clinic-based location. Dispensing naloxone begins by identifying patient groups that would benefit from access to the antidote. These include licit users of high-dose prescription opioids (50%) or injection drug users and abusers of prescription medications (83%). Patients were identified through prescription records or provider screening tools. Dispensing naloxone required a provider's prescription in 5 of the 6 locations identified. Only 1 pharmacy was able to exercise pharmacist prescriptive authority within their practice.


Outpatient administration of intramuscular and intranasal naloxone represents a means of preventing opioid-related deaths. Pharmacists can play a vital role in contacting providers, provision of products, education of patients and providers, and dissemination of information throughout the community. Preventing opioid overdose-related deaths should become a major focus of the pharmacy profession.


antidote; intranasal; naloxone; opioids; overdose

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