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Nasal spray could combat opioid epidemic

Naloxone - also called Narcan - reverses the effects of opioids, and can stop an accidental overdose.

MINNEAPOLIS - There are likely lots of things in your bathroom cupboard that you have "just in case," and soon there may be another.

It's Naloxone - also called Narcan - which reverses the effects of opioids, and can stop an accidental overdose.

“We certainly think it's important to have in a home,” said Larry King, Manager of Pharmacy Practice at Health Partners. “You have car insurance, you have flood insurance, and Narcan kind of functions that way from a medical perspective. If something happened, you’d need it.”

Some people, at higher risk for overdose, are more likely to need it, and that's where three questions come in, which pharmacists answer each time someone fills a prescription: First, is a patient on a high dose of an opioid - or have they taken three opioid prescriptions in a six-month span? Second, are they using anxiety drugs? And third, do they take methadone?

At Health Partners, those answers help pharmacists decide whether to suggest it to patients, and in just two weeks, they've given it to more than a hundred people, saying it could grow to more than 4,000. The program will soon be in all Health Partners clinics, and pharmacists say they hope it becomes standard with every opioid prescription, saying already, patients see its value.

“If a patient is comfortable with the medication and comfortable walking out knowing how to use it they've been really pretty successful conversations,” King said.

Most insurance companies cover Narcon, and pharmacists say since it comes as a nasal spray, it’s also easy to use.