Opioid antidote use continues to rise in SC

Opioid antidote disbursements continue to increase in SC

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Pine Ridge Pharmacy in West Columbia plays a special role in fighting the opioid crisis.

“We’re not recognized as providers by a lot of insurance companies or other places,” Owner Kyle McHugh said, “but in this particular case we are. In this particular case we are the provider of the medication and the education for the patient.”

They are one of the many pharmacies in South Carolina who can dispense naloxone to someone without a prescription. The drug is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Because of joint protocol enacted last year, if you feel like you are at risk or are the caregiver of someone at risk of an overdose, you can ask a pharmacist for naloxone.

“We can identify patients and counsel them initially when we fill the prescription and ask them if they’re interested in having this on hand just in case they take too much,” McHugh said.

According to the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS), in 2018 EMS personnel in South Carolina administered naloxone 8,102 times. DAODAS said more than 7,000 law enforcement officers have been trained in administering naloxone as well.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said 748 people died in South Carolina as a result of an opioid related overdose.

The Palmetto Foundation for Prevention and Recovery, a non-profit organization, focuses on education and prevention of drug abuse across the state. The organization is privately funded.

“We try to get people to think of Narcan as giving you an opportunity to go and get help, not the opportunity to be saved from a high that can kill you only so they can get that high again,” Palmetto Foundation for Prevention and Recovery Executive Director Martine Helou said.

A bill filed in the House by Rep. Russell Fry (R-Horry) would combine databases used in South Carolina that monitor prescriptions and naloxone administrations across the state. If signed into law, primary care physicians would be able to see if their patients have been given naloxone because of an overdose before prescribing them a Schedule II drug.

The bill is currently in committee and has bipartisan support.

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