- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico pharmacists are being trained to prescribe a drug that can reverse a heroin overdose’s effects if administered quickly.

The Santa Fe New Mexican (https://bit.ly/1eUuP1w ) reports that the New Mexico Pharmacists Association and a University of New Mexico program on Tuesday completed state-approved training for the first 60 pharmacists on the use of naloxone.

The drug is sold under the brand name Narcan. It is administered by attaching a nasal-tip inhaler to a small vial, which is used to spray a mist into the nose membrane. The drug flows directly to the brain, blocking opioids and restoring breathing.

Emergency rooms and some first responders carry the drug.

Its increased availability enhances public health because of the state’s high rate of deaths from drug overdoses, said Dale Tinker, executive director of the pharmacists association. “Pharmacists have a chance to change that statistic,” Tinker said.

Dr. Michael Landen, state epidemiologist with the New Mexico Department of Health, estimated there were as many as 500 overdose reversals statewide because of Narcan in 2013.

“Narcan is one of the keys to preventing prescription-drug overdoses,” Landen said. “Allowing people who need access to Narcan and having it available at most pharmacies is very important.”

A 2001 law gave New Mexico’s 1,600 pharmacists prescribing authority for some purposes, such as flu shots and other vaccinations. That authority has been expanded since then.

Prescribing authority for pharmacists is particularly important in New Mexico because so much of the state is rural, without easy access to physicians in some areas, Tinker said.

Landen said expanding supply through pharmacies makes the most sense for New Mexico, as “pharmacists can provide some of the patient and family advice on how to use Narcan.”

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