In 2015, the State of Ohio passed legislation to allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone under a physician-approved protocol. The legislation allows all individuals authorized under a physician-approved protocol to personally furnish naloxone without requiring clients to be seen by a licensed prescriber, thus expanding the capacity of Ohio's community distribution programs. We aimed to evaluate the implementation of legislation allowing for a physician-approved protocol in pharmacies and other naloxone distribution sites in Ohio, and to compare barriers and facilitators of implementing the law changes among sites that implemented a physician-approved protocol versus sites that did not.
The study used a convergent parallel mixed-method design. Random samples from all pharmacies registered with the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy and community naloxone distribution sites were selected. Quantitative data were collected via survey (n = 168) and qualitative data were collected via semi-structured interviews (n = 17).
Most survey respondents agreed that the policy has expanded access to naloxone at their site for individuals who want or need the medication. Both pharmacies and other naloxone distribution sites identified that leadership and organizational support facilitated protocol implementation and cost, stigma, and lack of naloxone demand challenged protocol implementation.
The study identified barriers and facilitators to the implementation of a physician-approved protocol within Ohio. The majority of respondents stated they could implement a protocol. However, barriers of cost, lack of public awareness of naloxone availability, and stigma remain for pharmacies and other naloxone distribution sites.