Mississippi expands availability of Naloxone to prevent opioid overdoses

Published 2:41 pm Tuesday, August 23, 2022

As part of continued efforts to reduce overdose deaths, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has extended and expanded the statewide Naloxone standing order that permits pharmacists to dispense the opioid reversal medication naloxone without a prescription from doctors or other medical practitioners. 

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said that Naloxone, the generic name for Narcan, is a part of standard-issue supplies given to deputies in his department. 

“Warren County deputies have carried Naloxone in their patrol car for several years. We have had several overdose deaths that have been prevented because of deputies being able to administer Naloxone in the field,” he said. “With overdoses being one of the leading causes of death in this country, I think it’s important that we do anything and everything we can to combat those effects. Law enforcement carrying naloxone is just one of those steps.”

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According to MSDH, overdoses are now the leading cause of death among U.S. adults ages 18 to 45. Naloxone blocks the brain’s opioid receptors and restores normal breathing in people who have overdosed on fentanyl, heroin or prescription opioid painkillers. Naloxone’s temporary blocking effect allows time for professional medical attention to be sought.

“Since this order was originally issued in 2018, many lives have been saved in communities throughout Mississippi because of the expanded availability of naloxone,” said Jan Dawson, program director of the Mississippi Public Health Institute. “We applaud our partners at the Mississippi State Department of Health for extending the order and for expanding it to include products that were not previously covered by the standing order, and to removing barriers to obtaining this lifesaving drug.”

Signed by State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers, the standing order states that pharmacists are allowed “to dispense an opioid antagonist [naloxone] to a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose or to a family member, friend or other person in a position to assist an at-risk person.”

According to Mississippi’s Medical Emergency Good Samaritan Act, one cannot be prosecuted for calling 911 in the event of an overdose — even if they are in possession of a drug.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 106,000 people died in the U.S. as the result of a drug overdose in the 12-month period ending November 2021, with opioid-related deaths accounting for 75 percent of all overdose deaths. A report from the Mississippi Opioid and Heroin Data Collaborative showed that drug overdose deaths in Mississippi rose by 49 percent in one year from 2019-2020.

Make Mississippi OD Free is a program administered by the Mississippi State Department of Health in partnership with the Mississippi Public Health Institute and is supported by a federal grant initiative funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The order may be viewed at https://www.mbp.ms.gov/news/naloxone-statewide-standing-order.

Learn more at https://odfree.org.