Pharmacists in Georgia can now dispense Naloxone - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Pharmacists in Georgia can now dispense Naloxone

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

A drug already in the hands of first responders to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose will soon be at a pharmacy near you.

This week, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal asked the Department of Public Health to issue the order on Naloxone. WTOC spoke with lawmakers and advocates who are pushing to make the drug more accessible. 

One nasal spray version of Naloxone - Narcan - is carried by police departments and other first responders nationwide, and has been credited with saving hundreds of lives. By taking certain restrictions away, like the need for a prescription, Georgians will be able to bring it home and not wait for an ambulance in the event of an overdose.

Lesli Messinger, Savannah Harm Reduction Coalition, said, "We've been wanting it for a long time to be accessible to every person, because it should be in everybody's medicine cabinet."

Messinger's son died from an opioid overdose, and her goal is to educate others about the dangers of opioid abuse, but also solutions and medicines, like naloxone. State Representative Ron Stephens - a pharmacist for decades - applauds the Governor's move and says making Naloxone more readily available for the public will help save the lives of people who have to take opioids for pain.

"From my point of view, it's about saving somebody's life, and a lot of these things, as I said earlier, are unintentional," said Rep. Stephens. 

Rep. Stephens gave the example of someone suffering from debilitating arthritis.

"They get used to a level of opiates in their bloodstream just to keep the pain down, so it may be something totally unintentional whenever the pain is just out of control. From my point of view, I would rather save someone's life from an unintentional overdose of a drug that does have beneficial effects."

Stephens says the sale of the drug, which can run from $40 a shot to thousands for more sophisticated kits, will be tracked just like Sudafed.

Governor Deal says he's also planning to introduce new legislation to help combat opioid addiction in Georgia this next legislative session.

In South Carolina, state lawmakers approved a law this year to expand access to Naloxone.

Just like the proposal in Georgia, the South Carolina law allows people to get the anti-overdose drug in pharmacies without a prescription. According to the CDC, 701 South Carolinians died of a drug overdose in 2014.

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