The Best And Worst States For Naloxone Access

By Britni de la Cretaz 05/15/17

A recent investigation looked into the availability of naloxone across the U.S. 


As the number of opioid overdose deaths climbs, a new investigation by Pacific Standard looks at how easy it is to get naloxone in various states by analyzing six types of laws.

Naloxone, which can reverse an overdose and can be administered by people with no medical training, has been proven to reduce overdose deaths — but it only works if people have access to it.

The investigation considered whether a state had any naloxone access laws on the books. Other types of laws considered were ones that allow naloxone to be prescribed to family and friends of people with addiction; laws that would allow for standing orders of naloxone prescriptions, permitting healthcare workers besides doctors to prescribe the drug; and several types of Good Samaritan laws, which offer various levels of protection for people who call 911 if they are with someone when they overdose.

As of August of 2016, only Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, Kansas, and Missouri had no laws addressing naloxone access on the books at all. However, just last month, two bills in Montana — one allowing for the prescription of naloxone and one allowing schools to administer naloxone — passed the House and one has passed the Senate (the other is awaiting a Senate vote), The Missoula Current reports.

In January 2017, Wyoming introduced a bill proposing that naloxone be available without a prescription in the state, as well as a pair of Good Samaritan laws.

Also in January, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced an executive order that would increase access to the drug in his state. Last month, Kansas allowed first responders access to naloxone and another bill is expected to expand that access.

Both Michigan and Oklahoma also rated poorly, each having just one of the six types of laws that enable access to naloxone that Pacific Standard looked at — a general access law meaning that the drug was available via a prescription in the state.

However, according to The Detroit News, in December 2106, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signed a series of bills into law to improve access to naloxone in the state of Michigan. One of those laws provided a standing order for pharmacists to dispense the drug.

Faring best were Nevada and Vermont, the only two states to have all six of the laws that improve naloxone access. Neither of those states had statistically significant increases in drug overdose death rates from 2014 to 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.