The abuse of and addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription opioid pain relievers is a public health concern across the state.

Special to the Journal

BISMARCK, N.D. – Opioid overdose-related deaths can be prevented when naloxone is administered in a timely manner.

As part of the “Stop Overdose” campaign, the North Dakota Department of Human Services Behavioral Health Division and North Dakota Board of Pharmacy, in collaboration with the Reducing Pharmaceutical Narcotics Task Force, are promoting the availability of naloxone. Naloxone saves lives by temporarily reversing the effects of opioid overdose.

The abuse of and addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription opioid pain relievers is a public health concern across the state. According to the Centers for Disease Control, overdose deaths in North Dakota have increased from 20 deaths in 2013 to 43 deaths in 2014.

“Prescription opioid and heroin abuse has impacted individuals and families across the state,” said Behavioral Health Division Director Pamela Sagness. “We need to ensure individuals at risk of an overdose have access to the life-saving medication naloxone.”

In response to the increase in overdose deaths in the state, the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy took action in April 2016. Using authority given by North Dakota lawmakers, the board began allowing all North Dakota pharmacists to prescribe naloxone to patients at risk of an overdose, their friends and family members, or other individuals in a position to assist in the event of an overdose.

“The enacted rules allow a trained pharmacist to prescribe and dispense naloxone rescue kits in accordance with a written protocol approved by the Board,” says Mark Hardy, Executive Director of the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy. “The Board encourages pharmacists and pharmacies to provide this service to their patients.”

To learn more about Stop Overdose, visit www.prevention.nd.gov/stopoverdose.