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Statewide standing order for naloxone signed Friday

Gov. Scott Walker announced a new statewide standing order that allows pharmacists to dispense naloxone without requiring individual prescriptions. The order was signed Friday by Jonathan Meiman, MD, chief medical officer for the state’s Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health.

This is the latest of the state’s efforts to combat opioid use, abuse and overdose, which includes State Assembly Rep. John Nygren’s Heroin, Opiate Prevention and Education (HOPE) package. Gov. Walker signed one of those bills into law—2015 Wisconsin Act 115—in December 2015 to allow clinicians to prescribe an opioid antagonist to pharmacies under a standing order. Naloxone is a nonaddictive medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

“In Wisconsin, and nationwide, we’re seeing lives lost and families shattered by opioid overdoses, whether from heroin or prescription painkillers, in our urban centers and rural areas,” said Governor Walker, in this press release. “This standing order allows pharmacies the ability to make this life-saving drug more accessible for friends, family and loved ones of those at risk of overdose, and potentially open the door for treatment and recovery.”

Opioid overdose deaths have increased steadily over the past 15 years in Wisconsin. In 2014, there were 392 deaths due to prescription drugs in Wisconsin and 266 due to heroin. Since 2009, opioid overdoses have exceeded car crashes as the leading cause of injury deaths in Wisconsin.

“The Wisconsin Medical Society applauds Governor Walker’s decision to create a statewide standing order for naloxone,” said Society Chief Medical Officer Donn Dexter, MD, following last week’s announcement. “As physicians, far too often we see the devastating impact of heroin and other opioids on our patients and their loved ones. By making naloxone more readily available to individuals at-risk for heroin overdose or those close to them, today’s action has the potential to save countless lives. It’s another step in the right direction as we all work to address this public health crisis.”

More information about the standing order is available on the Wisconsin Division of Health Services website.

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