New study reveals a gap in naloxone availability in Mississippi

Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 7:27 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - There’s a continued concern for opioid overdoses. We’ve reported on the reversal drug naloxone on several occasions.

Since 2017, there’s been a standing order that allows pharmacists to dispense naloxone with or without a prescription. But they’re not required to have it on hand. Now, a new study reveals there are questions about its availability in Mississippi.

”It should not be easier to buy a drug on the street than it is to buy Naloxone to get access to it,” explained End It For Good Founder and President Christina Dent. “This is a life-saving medication.”

This recent study done by University of Mississippi researchers reveals that while technically you can get the reversal drug commonly known as Narcan at pharmacies, it’s unavailable in more than 40 percent of the state’s pharmacies.

End It For Good is working to try and change the drug conversation. Founder and President Christina Dent says naloxone should be available in a lot of places, from pharmacies to community-based organizations.

“Only living people can recover,” said Dent. “If someone is dead, there are no more opportunities for them to make a difference in their life for them to choose a different path to get the help that they need. If people are dead, they can’t recover. We have to be able to help people stay alive long enough that they can get the health care that they need.”

Christi Berrong with The Molly Angel Project explains the study may not tell the full story because many families she sees through her work wouldn’t step foot into a pharmacy to get Narcan. But that’s where she comes in to help.

“Unfortunately, there is still a huge stereotype and stigma around substance use substance use disorder, addiction, all of those things,” described Berrong. “And that is a very big stumbling block for so many people. People who are in active addiction and active use are so used to being judged, they’re so used to being condemned. They just don’t want to take the chance.”

She finds that not only the stigma but the cost is what draws people to her organization.

“And that’s why I say you know, sometimes you have to meet people where they are,” she added.

Also beyond the pharmacy setting, the state has a federal grant that allows the Department of Health to have an OD-Free program where you can answer questions and get it sent at no cost by mail. The Department of Mental Health also makes it available to community mental health centers and first responders.

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