TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale and Senator Paul Sarlo that would authorize pharmacists to provide opioid antidotes to patients without individual prescriptions is now law.
“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 battle with addiction,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “Access to this life-saving medicine without a prescription was previously 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 law (S-295) would expand public access to opioid antidotes, such as naloxone hydrochloride, by permitting pharmacists to dispense opioid antidotes to any patient, regardless of whether the patient holds an individual prescription for the opioid antidote, pursuant to a standing order issued by a prescriber or pursuant to a standing order issued by the Commissioner of Health, or, if the commissioner is not a duly licensed physician, by the Deputy Commissioner for Public Health Services. A standing order issued by the Commissioner of Health or the Deputy Commissioner for Public Health Services is to be issued to a pharmacist upon request.
A “patient” means any person who is at risk of an opioid overdose or a person who obtains an opioid antidote for the purpose of administering that antidote to another person in an emergency.
“We must continue to fight the opioid epidemic in every way we can,” said Senator Sarlo (D-Bergen). “Making it easier for residents to access opioid antidotes, such as Narcan, without a prescription will give us a better chance of ensuring that it is available to counteract overdoses when it’s needed.”
The bill cleared the Senate with a vote of 38-0 and the Assembly by 74-0. The law takes effect immediately.