- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - At the same time as New Mexico promotes naloxone as a way to decrease overdose deaths, the state’s Board of Pharmacy is working to increase regulation of the drug.

“Certain rules have to be applied,” said pharmacy board executive director Ben Kesner. “You can’t just pass (naloxone) out.”

The state’s overdose deaths increased by 20 percent last year, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported (https://bit.ly/1HEAu95). Meanwhile, public health workers say naloxone — which can counter the effects of opioids — is becoming harder for people who are at risk of an overdose to access.

Current rules require a direct consultation with a nurse or physician for a naloxone prescription, according to public health workers.

That leaves a procedural gray area for organizations that treat people at risk of overdose, like Santa Fe’s Interfaith Community Shelter, the Santa Fe Recovery Center and the public health outreach van that circulates through Northern New Mexico. They’ve all had to stop distributing the drug, at least temporarily.

The Department of Health says it is revising its guidelines to address the issue.

Department spokesman Kenny Vigil did not respond to specific requests for comment but reiterated previous statements that the state’s goal is to increase naloxone’s availability.

The director of Santa Fe County’s Community Services Department said it is encouraging to see the health department passing out naloxone rescue kits at the county jail and sheriff’s department.

“Given the fact that drug overdose deaths now exceed the number of people who are dying as the result of motor vehicle crashes, there needs to be a systematic response that includes local communities,” said director Rachel O’Connor.

A spokesman for the Regulation and Licensing Department, which includes the pharmacy board, did not respond to repeated requests for comment from the Santa Fe New Mexican.

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Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, https://www.sfnewmexican.com

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