Pharmacists and naloxone: 
A life-or-death difference

Today's Perspective


Just as at APhA2015 last month in San Diego, pharmacists’ energy is bubbling over with new ways to help patients live longer, better lives. Combined with the unity we are seeing on the provider status front, we may soon have more innovative tools in hand for improving medication use and advancing patient care.

This month’s Innovations article (which starts on page 44) on the availability of naloxone services in the community setting is a great example of what pharmacists can do and are doing to ramp up patient care and improve public health. The result can be life-saving—literally.

The pharmacists from Rhode Island, New Mexico, and North Carolina who share their stories in this article hope that their pharmacy-based naloxone access programs will serve as examples for other locations across the country. The need is critical; opioid deaths have reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Jeffrey Bratberg of the University of Rhode Island (on this month’s cover) helped draft APhA’s 2014 policy that supports the pharmacist’s role in proper use of opioid reversal agents.

Pharmacists’ education of patients, combined with availability of intranasal and injectable naloxone, is a key to this effort. As reported in the article by Editorial Director Diana Yap, family and friends of those on opioid therapy can be taught everything they need to know in a short period of time, and the knowledge gained will be some of the most important education they will receive from a pharmacist. Kits are being dispensed and used to help those in need.

Unless we act now, more than 16,000 Americans will have died of overdoses of opioids (most of them inadvertent) by the time APhA convenes next March in Baltimore. Let’s make a life-or-death difference in our patients’ lives, starting with those who most need our help.

Enjoy your April Today!