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Branstad announces Naloxone access to combat Opioid epidemic plaguing Iowa


DES MOINES – At-risk Iowans will now have access to medication that can reverse an opioid overdose, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and other officials announced today.

Today, at the Administration’s weekly press conference, Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, and Office of Drug Control Policy Director Steve Lukan announced that Iowans now have access to Naloxone, a prescription medication that can reverse an opioid overdose through a standing order issued by Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, Iowa Department of Public Health Medical Director.

Walgreen's pharmacy
Walgreen’s pharmacy

The standing order authorizes pharmacists to dispense Naloxone to eligible recipients including individuals at risk of opioid overdose, a family member or friend in a position to assist an at-risk person, and first responders. In an overdose situation, Naloxone is given by nasal spray or injection to reverse the opioid-induced slowing of the respiratory system, allowing the person to temporarily breathe easier, while medical care is sought. Iowans looking to become educated on how to recognize or respond to an opioid overdose can use a new educational brochure issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

“Last Spring, I signed the opioid antagonist bill into law enabling first responders, family members, and others to obtain and administer Naloxone that can reverse the opioid overdose,” said Branstad. “Iowans who are at risk for opioid abuse or have a loved one at-risk can now obtain Naloxone at their local pharmacy through this standing order.”

“We are doing everything we can to prevent, treat, and respond to the opioid epidemic,” Reynolds added. “Naloxone is not a cure for an opioid overdose, however it can buy critical time until emergency treatment is available and long-term treatment can be provided. This can mean the difference between life and death.”

Iowans looking for more information on treatment options can go to Public Health’s website. Iowa is taking a multifaceted approach to response to the opioid abuse. A joint effort between the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP), Department of Public Health (IDPH), Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Public Safety (DPS), local non-profits, and local law enforcement are taking steps to prevent, treat, and combat opioid abuse.

Earlier this month the Iowa Board of Pharmacy implemented administrative rules outlining procedures and training requirements for participating pharmacies. Iowa is now the 18th state to expand access to Naloxone through pharmacists. Prior to the standing order, the only way for individuals to obtain Naloxone was through their doctor or other prescriber, followed by a trip to the pharmacy for the drug. Including pharmacists through the standing order streamlines the process, allowing individuals to receive a prescription directly at the pharmacy.

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