Arizona bill addressing reporting requirements for naloxone distribution gains traction in the House


Hannah Saunders


The Arizona House Health and Human Services Committee approved a bill last week relating to the distribution of naloxone, an opioid anticoagulant used to reverse overdoses and prevent overdose deaths. 

The committee approved Senate Bill 1211, which would allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone hydrochloride, or any other opioid antagonist that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), without a signed prescription order. The bill would also remove certain requirements related to reporting and rulemaking for opioid antagonists. 

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Kam Gandhi, executive director at the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy, noted that the FDA made naloxone an over-the-counter product last July. If naloxone was covered by prescription benefits programs, it could open avenues for more individuals to obtain the lifesaving medication, Gandhi said. 

“The FDA recognized this as a global problem. The reason we’re asking for (naloxone) to be an option, or a prescription as well, is because this product runs about $50 as a retail cost, and that may still be a barrier for some folks.” 

— Gandhi

In Arizona, more than five people die each day from opioid overdoses, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services (AzDHS). Three months into 2024, Arizona has verified 459 non-fatal opioid overdose incidents, and 46 confirmed opioid deaths. The state has recorded 1,220 emergency and inpatient hospitalizations involving suspected opioid overdoses. 

“Drug overdose persists as a major public health issue in the U.S.,” the FDA said. “In the 12-month period ending in February 2023, more than 105,000 reported fatal overdoses occurred which were primarily driven by synthetic opioids like illicit fentanyl. Naloxone is a medication that rapidly reverses the effects of opioid overdose and is the standard treatment for opioid overdose.”

Rep. Matt Gress (R-Tempe) asked about the bill’s proposal to remove reporting requirements related to the disbursement of naloxone. Gandhi said naloxone is a nonprescription medication, and reporting requirements were installed when AzDHS was tracking the dispensation of prescribed naloxone. 

“Nobody’s using that data today,” Gandhi said. “That data is collected for no reason.”

Gandhi noted that naloxone is currently being dispensed in gas stations and convenience stores, and said SB 1211’s goal is to create alignment with the federal government and the rest of the country. 

SB 1211 was passed in the Senate in February. It was sent to the House Rules Committee following its approval in the Health and Human Services Committee.

Readers who want to learn more about behavioral health initiatives in Arizona can register for the 2024 Arizona State of Reform Health Policy Conference, which will be held on May 14 at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown.

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