New Narcan law leaves some pain patients with no choice

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A new Virginia law requires doctors to co-prescribe the opioid overdose drug Narcan with certain potent pain medicines. Narcan, one of the brand names for Naloxone, is an effective drug used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose.

A Chesapeake woman has been on pain meds for years and never overdosed, so she doesn’t see the need to buy Narcan. Fortunately her doctor is not forcing her to buy it.

But since 10 On Your Side aired her story, viewers contacted 10 On Your Side saying their doctors or pharmacists are requiring them to get Narcan when they get their pain prescription.

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The state boards of medicine and pharmacy say there’s no absolute law about this scenario. The state says the pharmacist should call the prescribing doctor, and that doctor can decide whether to require the Narcan.    

If the prescribing doctor insists, and the patient refuses to purchase it, then the doctor can reduce or stop the opioid pain medicine.

One viewer who takes six 30-milligram Percocets (oxycodone) every day says his doctor required him to buy the Narcan, or he wouldn’t get the pain med. Another viewer who’s taken opioid pain medicine for 24 years recently learned her pharmacy would deny her the medicine if she didn’t also get the Narcan.

One way to get a box of Narcan for free is to complete what’s called REVIVE training. You learn how to recognize and respond to an opioid emergency. Check with your local community services board or health department. 

Another option is Evzio, which is similar to Narcan. See if your doctor will prescribe Evzio instead. It has a payment program that could reduce or even eliminate your out-of-pocket cost.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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