Legislation would empower pharmacists to distribute opioid addiction drug – Columbia Missourian

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JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri pharmacists may finally be getting the help they need to help patients and customers who have struggled with the ongoing opioid epidemic.
As of last year, the State of Missouri received settlements of more than $500 million from national opioid manufacturers and distributers that is meant to help families who have or had members who struggled with an opioid addiction.
Now, state lawmakers are making the push to make sure that state citizens are getting the care they need to avoid overdosing on opioids themselves.
Rep. Jonathon Patterson, R-Lee’s Summit, introduced legislation Monday before the House Committee on health and mental health policy that would give state pharmacists the ability to distribute and sell naltrexone hydrochloride.
Patterson, who is also a private practice general surgeon, said the drug would help a lot of Missouri families in need.
“If you look at the numbers, anywhere from 800 to 1,200 people die from opioid use disorder every year,” Patterson said. “Imagine if you had a person who was getting off of opioids and they have this craving for the drug. They could go to a pharmacy, and the pharmacist can give them that drug and the individual can take it so that they don’t go and find heroin or any other fentanyl drugs they could overdose on.”
The drug, naltrexone hydrochloride, is identified by the Food and Drug Administration as an opioid antagonist and can be used for up to 30 days. Its purpose when used is to block the effects of an opioid overdose such as physical illness, decreased level of consciousness, difficulty breathing, coma and in the worst cases, death.
In effect, if a former user of opioids has a craving to reuse opioids of any kind, naltrexone would stop those cravings and relapse feelings for the user.
If Patterson’s bill passes, the drug would be added to the state’s list of drugs used to help individuals who have abused opioids or have overdosed on opioids in the past.
The bill would also give individuals immunity from being arrested for administering the drug under the state’s Good Samaritan law.
Henrio Thelemaque of the Missouri Pharmacy Association testified before the committee, discussing how effective naltrexone is as a drug.
“It’s a 30-day supply, so if this bill passes, you go to a pharmacy and say, ‘Hey, I’ve been clean for about five years, and I am relapsing.’ During COVID, we have seen this especially,” Thelemaque said.
“The idea is to say, ‘Hey, if you are at risk of relapsing, here is a preventative measure.’ This isn’t treating. We’re not saying take oral naltrexone for treatment. To get treated, go to a specialist, or go to a center that specializes on this.”
Assisted Recovery Centers of America President and Founder Percy Menzies also testified before the committee in favor of Patterson’s bill, stating that the drug itself is non-addictive and is active within the body for 24 hours.
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