Will Naloxone Be Co-Prescribed With Opioid Painkillers In The Future?

By Beth Leipholtz 10/24/18

While some states already require the co-prescription, the FDA is considering making it a requirement across the US.

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pharmacist talking to customer

In an effort to decrease overdose deaths, doctors could soon be required to prescribe an opioid overdose antidote any time they prescribe prescription painkillers, according to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.  

The idea of co-prescription, according to the Washington Examiner, isn’t a new idea. In fact, some states such as Arizona, Virginia, and Vermont, already require the co-prescription of the overdose reversal drug known as naloxone.

Naloxone comes in the form of a nasal spray as well as an auto-injection so it may be administered by those not in the medical field.  

Other states considering such laws include California, Florida, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Utah. 

Such laws are supported by the manufacturers of popular overdose antidotes, such as Adapt Pharma, the company that distributes Narcan. 

“We are trying to do anything we can to build awareness and broaden support,” said company chairman and CEO Seamus Mulligan, according to the Examiner

Kaleo, the manufacturer of the naloxone auto-injector, is also supportive, telling the Examiner in May that it “welcomes” the idea of co-prescribing.

"We believe that doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals play a critical role in developing and managing a comprehensive treatment plan for their patients, as well as helping a patient and their loved ones recognize the potential risk for opioid emergencies, even when pain medications are taken as directed," the company said.

Current laws vary from state to state. In Vermont, prescription rules are connected to other laws requiring doctors to check patient databases before prescribing an opioid.

In Virginia, it’s recommended that high doses of pain prescriptions are given with an overdose antidote prescription as well.

Additionally, doctors are encouraged to prescribe the antidote when prescribing opioids and benzodiazepines, as the two can lead to overdose.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made similar recommendations in its guidelines to doctors. 

While naloxone can save lives, it’s not considered a treatment for substance use disorder. 

"Naloxone allows someone another day to have an opportunity to overcome their addiction," New York state Sen. George Amedore Jr. said, according to the Examiner. "It’s not the whole answer or the cure-all."

As such, some officials are also calling for wider access to buprenorphine, a medication that helps to lessen cravings and withdrawals. 

The FDA will hold a meeting on Dec. 17-18 to determine more ways to make the overdose antidote more readily available. 

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at www.lifetobecontinued.com, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.

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