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In an effort to further reduce the number of opioid-involved deaths in Iowa, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), in partnership with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, is sponsoring a new initiative that makes NARCAN® 4mg nasal spray (naloxone) available for free at local pharmacies. Any individual 18 years of age or older can request to be screened by a pharmacist for eligibility to receive NARCAN®. If approved, the pharmacy may dispense up to two NARCAN® 4mg nasal spray kits at no charge to the recipient

“This allows Iowans to be prepared in the event they encounter someone experiencing a suspected opioid overdose, or perhaps use opioids themselves and want others they’re involved with to know they have it,” said IDPH Opioid Initiatives Director Kevin Gabbert. “While the dynamics of opioid misuse are complicated, greater availability of naloxone can help keep people alive, offer a chance to get help, and begin a journey of recovery.”

“This program completely eliminates financial barriers to access the antidote to opioid overdoses,” said Iowa Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Andrew Funk. “It’s wonderful to see the confidence the department has in pharmacies and pharmacists across the state of Iowa by its willingness to partner with pharmacists, one of the most accessible healthcare providers. I’m excited to see the impact that this new endeavor will have on the health of Iowans.”

Past efforts to address opioid-involved deaths include issuing a statewide Naloxone Standing Order that made the medication available without a prescription, offering free naloxone kits to law enforcement agencies and emergency departments, and providing training to over 170 stakeholders statewide to be trainers on recognizing and responding to opioid overdose.

While these and other efforts across Iowa have led to a reduction in the number of opioid-involved deaths (from 206 deaths in 2017 to 137 deaths in 2018), provisional data for 2019 shows that the decrease did not continue and the state experienced an increase, with 155 deaths reported to date.

Anyone who may be in a position to assist in the event of an opioid overdose is encouraged to receive NARCAN® education and have a supply on hand. NARCAN® is safe and easy to use, but most importantly, it may save a life in the event of opioid overdose.

For more information and to order naloxone, visit www.naloxoneiowa.org.