TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale that would authorize pharmacists to provide opioid antidotes to patients without individual prescriptions cleared the Senate today.
“Expanding access to Narcan will help save lives and allow those who are suffering from addiction a second chance to get the treatment they need to win their fierce battle,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “Currently, access without a prescription is limited to law enforcement officers and first responders. But the antidote can be administered safely and swiftly by others, including family members, and providing access to it at the pharmacy can mean the difference between life and death.”
This bill (S-295) would expand public access to opioid antidotes, such as naloxone hydrochloride, by supplementing the “New Jersey Pharmacy Practice Act” and amending the provisions of the “Overdose Prevention Act” in order to authorize pharmacists to supply opioid antidotes to patients without prescriptions under standardized protocols adopted by the Board of Pharmacy. The authority granted by the bill would be in addition to the existing authority of pharmacists to supply opioid antidotes to patients without prescriptions under a standing order issued by a physician.
Under the bill, the Board of Pharmacy would be required to adopt standardized protocols to be used by licensed pharmacists when furnishing an opioid antidote to a patient without a prescription within 90 days after the bill’s effective date. The protocols must require a pharmacist to determine that the patient seeking the antidote is capable of administering the same to an overdose victim in an emergency. These protocols are consistent with the same if dispensing the antidote to anyone under a standing order.
“It’s an epidemic that we must continue to fight in every way that we can,” added Senator Vitale. “Through a multi-pronged approach that includes education, prevention, treatment and recovery efforts, we can make progress.”
The bill cleared the Senate with a vote of 38-0. It now heads to the Assembly for consideration.