State Health Commissioner Issues Statewide Pharmacy Standing Order for Naloxone to Reduce Opioid Overdoses and Save Lives

Standing Order Makes Life-Saving Naloxone Medication as Close to 'Over the Counter' as Allowed by Federal Authorities

New Yorkers Can Now Get Naloxone Without a Prescription

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 11, 2022) – As overdose deaths from fentanyl, heroin and other opioids mount in a serious public health crisis, New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Mary T. Bassett today announced a statewide pharmacy standing order for naloxone beginning Monday, August 15, 2022. Naloxone is a medication that can be easily administered to block the effects of opioids allowing a stricken person to regain consciousness and resume normal breathing.

Dr. Bassett made the announcement earlier today in a keynote address at the Western New York Harm Reduction Conference held in Buffalo, N.Y. In her remarks Dr. Bassett said, "I am issuing a standing order for pharmacies across the State to carry naloxone and dispense it without a prescription. This is as close as we can get to naloxone being 'over the counter' without action being taken by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration."

Since 2015, there has been a patchwork of naloxone standing orders in New York State, including those issued by the New York City and Erie County health departments. Some pharmacy chains have provided their own standing orders, and the State Health Department has also had a mechanism for pharmacies seeking standing orders to obtain one. Those standing orders combined covered more than 2,600 pharmacies.

As the new standing order applies to all pharmacies in New York State, they will not need to apply individually for a standing order to start dispensing naloxone to customers. Pharmacies which already have naloxone standing orders may continue to use them. Non-medical individuals who encounter or witness an overdose can save lives when naloxone is administered in time. All dispensing under the new standing must follow protocols in the standing order which is available here. Participating pharmacies will also be required to give the Department information on their location and hours of operation so that a comprehensive online directory can be made available.

"Naloxone is a critical tool in addressing the overdose epidemic and has prevented thousands of overdose deaths across New York State," Office of Addiction Services and Supports Commissioner Chinazo Cunningham said. "Making it easier to obtain this lifesaving medication will mean more individuals have a meaningful chance to receive services and supports to assist in improving their health. OASAS looks forward to ongoing collaboration with the State Department of Health through our newly announced Harm Reduction unit, as we continue this and other efforts to support New Yorkers and their families who have been impacted by addiction."

Increasing access to naloxone through pharmacies builds upon the Department's Opioid Overdose Prevention initiative, which was launched in 2006. Programs registered through this initiative, today numbering more than 900, train non-medical individuals in recognizing overdoses and in responding to them by administering naloxone and calling EMS. The Department provides naloxone at no cost to registered programs. Registered programs have reported over 30,000 naloxone administrations to date.

The Department's naloxone programming is part of a larger effort to reduce the harms associated with drug use. That dates from 1992 when the first syringe exchange programs (SEPs) were authorized by the Department of Health. Currently, the 25 SEPs account for more than 68% of all reported community naloxone administrations.

Through the State Health Department's Naloxone Co-Payment Assistance Program (N-CAP), insured individuals have co-payments of up to $40.00 covered by the State resulting in no cost or lower out-of-pocket expenses.

Additionally, Governor Hochul's FY 2023 Enacted Budget invests $200 million over five years from the Opioid Stewardship Fund, to fight the opioid epidemic using a public health approach. This inter-agency effort will be coordinated by OASAS and DOH and focus on harm reduction programs designed to serve individuals at highest risk of overdose, as well as initiatives to help uninsured New Yorkers afford the cost of opioid treatment.

Commissioner Cunningham, under the Governor's leadership, has also significantly ramped up efforts to make federal funding awards available to the provider system. To date, over $78 million in federal Supplemental SAPT Block Grant funds have been made available to support efforts such as strengthening the addiction workforce, stabilizing the provider system, developing a prevention infrastructure, expanding access to medication for opioid use disorder services, enhancing recovery programming, creating transitional housing units, and promoting regional collaborations to provide more comprehensive, patient-centered care.

The State is also in the second year of the second round of State Opioid Response Grants. A total of $56 million has been made available to expand evidence-based prevention services in high-need communities; provide street outreach services to engage those not currently in treatment; support Health Hubs to provide access to an array of primary and behavioral health services; develop public awareness campaigns; and fund Recovery Community Outreach Centers to support individuals in their efforts to live a healthy lifestyle.

Last October, Governor Hochul signed a legislative bill package to reduce drug-related overdose deaths across New York State and encourage those suffering from addiction to seek help in their recovery.

New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the State's toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369).

For more information about the new standing order, please visit the website here or email questions to the Department at: