State wants to get ‘miraculous’ opioid overdose reversal drug to more addicts

Naloxone or Narcan can reverse an opioid overdose.
Naloxone or Narcan can reverse an opioid overdose.(Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Mar. 1, 2019 at 5:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Edward Mersereau, director of behavioral health at the state Health Department, has seen the life-saving impacts of Naloxone first-hand.

The fast-acting drug can reverse the effects of an overdose from prescription painkillers, heroin and possibly even fentanyl.

“The results are miraculous," he said. “That person goes from being unconscious, in cardiac arrest basically, to coming out of it almost instantaneously and kind of alive.”

In the last two years. state health officials have documented at least 120 overdose reversals from Naloxone ― also called Narcan.

Now they’re working with pharmacies like Times to implement a law enacted last year that allows pharmacists to prescribe Naloxone to patients, families and caregivers.

“Quite frankly, being a pharmacist, my biggest reaction was how quick it worked,” said Patrick Uyemoto, Times clinical pharmacy manager.

“You’ll see them just wake up again in seconds to minutes. Most drugs you don’t see an effect that quickly.”

Pharmacies need to work through internal training and protocols before making it easily available without a doctor's prescription. Times Pharmacy wants to offer the nasal spray form of the drug.

“If you are going to give it to a mother who wants it in case she thinks her child is abusing opioids or someone who is taking a lot of opioid medication, we believe it’s the simplest delivery form," Uyemoto said.

“You just put it up their nose, spray and it should have its effect.”

The drug costs $120 for two nasal spray doses. The Health Department is trying to work with insurance companies to cover some of the costs. It costs up to $40 for the Naloxone injection.

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