A look at how OTC drug overdose antidotes are working out for Indiana

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — As the number of overdose cases continue to climb in Tippecanoe County, News 18 looked to see how many people are taking advantage of overdose antidotes sold over the counter.

Pharmacies have been allowed to sell Naloxone to anyone since July 2016; and although one local pharmacy said it has seen some traffic, Naloxone advocates said awareness could be better.

“I’m not even sure families know that they can go to the pharmacy,” Overdose Lifeline founder Justin Phillips said. “People just don’t know and/or the pharmacies aren’t carrying it. Pharmacies still aren’t necessarily, completely 100 percent on board.”

But Pay Less Supermarket said it supports the state’s opt-in Naloxone program.

“I’m glad that Kroger has been a part of this,” Clinical Care coordinator Jennifer Buerle said.

The reversal drug isn’t just for people with addiction. Pharmacists and doctors sometimes prescribe the antidote to people taking opioids for medical reasons.

“Especially, if people are on a number of medications,” said Buerle. “Accidents may happen at home.”

For that reason, Phillips can’t understand why all pharmacies won’t participate.

“I get it,” said Phillips. “They have a judgment about the person that’s going to come in and that type of thing.”

Judgment is why Donna Zoss with the Tippecanoe County Drug Coalition said over-the-counter Naloxone may not be as popular with addicts or their families.

“There’s a lot of social stigma attached to drug abuse and so forth,” said Zoss. “I think some families are hesitant to go to the pharmacy and ask for it because of that fact.”

However, Buerle said general pharmacy practice should protect customers.

“There should never be any judgment passed regarding a prescription that might be coming through, or somebody who might be asking for this product, cause you don’t know the situation,” said Buerle. “And it’s our job to take care of the situation and the patient.”

Zoss said she’s proud of Indiana for being ahead of the game with Naloxone. She wishes it was this way when her son was alive. He died from a drug overdose in 2011.

“He’s like my momentum to keep staying involved in this,” said Zoss.

Next month, Zoss will become a Naloxone trainer for Overdose Lifeline.

“If I can prevent any individual or another family from having to go through all of this heartache and watching someone basically self-destruct in front of you, it’s worth all of it,” said Zoss.

If you can’t afford Naloxone over the counter, Overdose Lifeline has ways to help.

Tippecanoe County also recently applied for a grant to bring hundreds of free Naloxone kits to those who need them.