- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky recently became one of the first states to allow people without a prescription access to a life-saving drug that can reverse a heroin overdose.

The Kentucky Board of Pharmacy approved an emergency regulation for naloxone that went into effect Thursday. The law gives pharmacists the option to dispense the drug without a doctor’s prescription.

“(The) regulation by the state’s Board of Pharmacy fulfills a major component of this year’s far-reaching heroin law, so I’m certainly pleased to see that it is now ready to go,” Kentucky Representative John Tilley said. “This will save lives and give many families peace of mind.”

Naloxone is a non-narcotic that can save the lives of those overdosed on heroin or prescription painkillers. When sprayed into the nostrils or injected, the drug can restore a person’s breathing.

“People need to understand that this is not beating the disease of addiction. Naloxone is merely providing an antidote to accidental overdose,” said Jason Merrick, chairman of the grass-roots group Northern Kentucky People Advocating Recovery. “People need to be referred to an assessment or treatment.”

Mike Burleson, executive director of the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy, said Kentucky pharmacists who want to provide the drug are required to take training on dispensing the medicine and have their protocol in place and approved by a Kentucky-licensed physician before doing so.

“Training and counseling is a key component of this,” Burleson said.

In Northern Kentucky alone, St. Elizabeth Healthcare emergency staff reversed more than 2,180 heroin overdoses with the drug since tracking its cases back to 2011, the Kentucky Enquirer (https://cin.ci/1GiHh9c) reported.

“We all know as pharmacists that anything we can do to help save a life, we want to do,” Burleson said.

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