ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – New Mexico has become the first state to train its pharmacists to prescribe a powerful anti-overdose drug called Narcan.
Narcan reverses the effects of heroin and prescription pain pill overdoses, and it is proven to save lives.
The rate of people dying from heroin and pain killer overdoses in New Mexico is higher than anywhere else in the country. About 500 people died from these overdoses just last year.
Now, dozens of pharmacists can help change those statistics because they’re trained and certified to prescribe Narcan. Pharmacists say it can work on a large population.
“There are a lot of different uses for it,” said Tamela Szaloy, a pharmacist at Highland Pharmacy in Albuquerque. “There are obviously your addicts, and there’s people that are trying to get off medications, in case they happen to relapse its important to have it for them as well.”
Narcan can also be used to help save children who accidentally get into their parents medicine cabinets.
New Mexico Department of Health officials say just last year, the drug saved about 500 lives. They are hoping to save more lives with increased access to Narcan.
“They do use it in the ER, and if they get there in time it’s very effective. But a lot of people can’t get there in time, so this is to have it available so that if that happens you can administer it right away while you’re waiting to get to the ER or for the ambulance to show up, and hopefully prevent some of those deaths that are happening right now,” said Szaloy.
DOH officials said they hope the pharmacist Narcan program works, particularly in rural areas where it’s hard to get to doctors and hospitals.
The state is working on a list of pharmacists who are certified to prescribe Narcan. Until then, they recommend patients ask their pharmacist.