A Chicago pharmacist is filling orders for the life-saving drug naloxone and delivering the opioid overdose reversal medication to 35 states through an online service he created. James Lott, the founder of Script Health, said that his goal is to get naloxone into the hands of as many people as possible.
Most of the orders filled by the delivery service, Lott says, are placed by friends and family members of people struggling with opioid misuse disorder.
“Loved ones, moms, brothers, sisters. They don’t want them to relapse,” he said. “If they’re actively using, they don’t want them to die. We’ll have someone order from Florida and ship it to their loved one in Texas.”
Customers visiting the delivery service’s website can purchase two doses of generic naloxone and two nasal atomizers for $99. Two doses of Narcan, a brand name version of the drug that comes in an easy-to-use spray bottle, are also available for $158. The company does not accept insurance for the orders.
Expanding Access to a Lifesaving Drug
Last year, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams recommended that more people have naloxone at the ready as a way to address the ongoing opioid crisis, which has caused the deaths of more than 400,000 Americans over the past two decades.
“Knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life,” Adams wrote in an advisory.
Lott says that he started the delivery service because many people are not comfortable buying the drug due to the ongoing stigma attached to addiction and drug use.
“If you grew up in the same town and you all went to high school and middle school together, going into the pharmacy to get naloxone is very challenging,” he said.
Lott added that sometimes people have difficulty purchasing naloxone because pharmacy employees incorrectly believe that the drug requires a prescription, a situation that he encountered at a pharmacy in Chicago last December.
“The pharmacy technician didn’t know what it was,” said Lott. “I had to argue with them.”
Lott had to identify himself as a pharmacist and show the employee the law before the tech was convinced.
Bayou State Approves Online Sales
Last week Louisiana, where Lott is originally from, became one of the states that allow online orders of naloxone. Rhonda Irving, the CEO of the Capitol Area Reentry Program in Baton Rouge, agreed that many people find it difficult to take advantage of the benefits offered by the drug and similar harm reduction strategies.
“If they have the instructions, then getting it in the hands of as many people as possible is a great idea,” said Irving. “I’ve had parents call me to get clean syringes for their kids,” she said, but sometimes they don’t want to come into the building.
Louisiana has also taken other measures to address the opioid crisis, including adding Medicaid coverage for methadone treatment programs. The state will also offer medication-assisted therapy at more health facilities and Medicaid will help patients transition from emergency room treatment into addiction services from other providers under legislation recently approved by Gov. John Bel Edwards.