February 11, 2020
The number of naloxone orders dispensed increased 2328% in the Ohio Medicaid population after the state implemented a law allowing pharmacists to dispense the opioid overdose drug without a prescription, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.
“The implementation of an Ohio law allowing pharmacists to dispense naloxone in accordance with a physician-approved protocol was associated with an increase in the number of naloxone orders dispensed,” researchers wrote. “These findings were evident in the Ohio Medicaid population and confirmed in the all-payer population.”
The retrospective study looked at Ohio Medicaid naloxone claims and Kroger Pharmacy naloxone claims for all counties in Ohio between July 16, 2014, and January 15, 2017. The Ohio law allowing pharmacists to dispense the drug without a prescription took effect in July 2015.
In the Ohio Medicaid population, the number of naloxone orders dispensed grew from 191 in the prepolicy period to 4637 in the postpolicy period—an increase of 2328%, according to the study. Per month per county, the rate of naloxone orders dispensed increased by 4% in the state Medicaid population and 3% in the Kroger Pharmacy population after the policy change.
In low-employment counties, researchers found, the rate of naloxone orders dispensed in the Medicaid population increased 18% per month compared with high-employment counties.
“Our study expands on the previous studies by observing an association between naloxone dispensing rates and low-employment counties,” researchers wrote. “Notably, our findings also suggest that the policy change was associated with increases in access to naloxone among patients residing in these vulnerable areas.”
Gangal NS, Hincapie AL, Jandarov R, et al. Association Between a State Law Allowing Pharmacists to Dispense Naloxone Without a Prescription and Naloxone Dispensing Rates. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(1):e1920310. Published 2020 Jan 3. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.20310