As of Aug. 31, 2016, the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC), a statewide nonprofit dedicated to reducing drug overdose deaths has reported that since Aug. 1, 2013 when they began distributing overdose prevention kits containing the opioid antagonist naloxone, the total number of overdose reversals they know of stands at 4170. For a list of reversals by city click here.
The NCHRC began offering naloxone along with overdose prevention training to community members after the passage of the 911 Good Samaritan law in North Carolina. The 911 Good Samaritan law encourages people to seek medical help for an overdose by offering limited immunity for some drug, alcohol, and probation/parole violation offenses. It also grants civil and criminal immunity to anyone who administers naloxone in good faith and allows community-based organizations to distribute naloxone through a special prescription (a standing order) from a medical provider.
In June 2016, North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Board member Jeffrey Runge, MD, and NCMS member Joshua Landau, MD, both stood behind Governor McCrory as he signed a bill into law authorizing state health director Randall Williams, MD, to sign a statewide standing order for naloxone. Dr. Williams lauded the NCMS’ support of the bill and efforts to curb prescription drug abuse.
NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Richard Brajer noted at the bill signing ceremony that last year almost 1,000 people in the state died from drug overdoses. These deaths, he said, could have been “reversible” had naloxone been readily accessible.
Now, with the statewide standing order, any licensed pharmacist can dispense the drug to someone who is at risk or knows someone at risk for opioid overdose. Pharmacists can choose to dispense the intranasal or intramuscular form of naloxone. The intramuscular form is cheaper, but the branded intranasal form called Narcan, is easy to administer. Medicaid will cover all the options listed in the standing order, but otherwise prices will vary depending on the insurance plan. Without insurance, cost estimates for Narcan range from $150 to $180.
For more information, visit the state’s site at The NCHRC also has information on overdose training and how to receive a naloxone kit at their website here.