Pharmacists should have expanded role in providing naloxone, AMA says

AMA’s House of Delegates adopts policies

The American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates adopted a resolution encouraging a larger role for pharmacists in efforts to expand access to opioid overdose–reversing medications, specifically collaborative practice agreements and standing orders. The provision is part of a package of new policies aimed at increasing access to naloxone and other drugs that prevent opioid overdose deaths.

Pharmacists who provide non–patient-specific naloxone—not just to vulnerable patients but their families and friends—are qualified to educate patients on how to identify and respond to an opioid overdose, AMA noted in its recommendations.

Another policy supported liability protections for physicians and other authorized health professionals—including pharmacists—to prescribe, dispense, and administer naloxone. AMA encouraged similar leeway for community organizations, law enforcement agencies, correctional facilities, and schools where not otherwise prohibited by statute.

Connecticut, Idaho, North Dakota, and New Mexico currently allow pharmacists to prescribe naloxone, and several more allow pharmacists who have established collaborative practice agreements with physicians to do so.

Other policies promoted timely and appropriate access to nonopioid and nonpharmacologic treatments for pain and supported efforts to uncouple payments to health care facilities and patient satisfaction scores relating to pain evaluation and management. AMA also urged health plans to include naloxone in multiple formulations on its preferred drug lists and to minimize cost sharing. In addition, the association encouraged increasing third-party (e.g., family, friends) access to naloxone.