ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is unveiling a new way to combat the opioid overdose epidemic.
Minnesotans are now able to get an overdose reversal drug called naloxone without a prescription. The move is part of a state law that went into effect on Jan. 1.
Drug overdose deaths were more than four times as high in 2015 compared to 2000, according to the MDH. The marjoity were caused by prescription medications.
“Opiod overdose deaths are greater than traffic deaths, and are the leading cause of accidental death in our state,” MDH Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said.
Now patients, family members, or others concerned about someone at risk can get the drug from a local pharmacy. CVS and Walgreens already have protocols in place for pharmacists to give out the drug and directions on how to use it.
“If you do come across an overdose victim, your goal is to keep that person alive until first responders arrive,” MDH Medical Director Dr. Ruth Lynfield said.
Naloxone comes in a nasal spray or in an injectable form. If you’re using a needle, it has to be injected into the thigh, shoulder, or glutes. Once the drug has been administered, you give rescue breaths until help arrives.
If the victim doesn’t respond after two minutes, you can give a second dose. It’s for that reason pharmacists recommend keeping at least two doses on hand.
MDH officials say naloxone should not be used as a replacement for ongoing care with a doctor
“It doesn’t cure somebody from being addicted so they need will need some more care, but it will save the life so they can get into care,” Ehlinger said.
The nasal spray version of the drug, Narcan, is $110 at CVS. It’s $45 for the injectable version.
If you find your pharmacy does not have the drug, you can ask them if they will opt into the protocol.