The purpose of this mixed-methods exploratory study is to (1) investigate the support and diffusion of naloxone pharmacy services that utilize a standing order, and (2) assess feasibility of an expanded public health role for naloxone-registered pharmacists to help increase uptake of pharmacy-acquired naloxone in rural /suburban New York (NY). The U.S. opioid overdose crisis has led to legislation in 49 states allowing naloxone (i.e., opioid overdose reversal medication) to be dispensed through a non-patient specific prescription or ?standing order?. In New York State (NYS), over 2,600 pharmacies are registered to participate in the Opioid Overdose Prevention Program (OOPP) which allows use of a standing order to dispense naloxone. Yet, pilot data as well as anecdotal evidence suggests that pharmacy-acquired naloxone is infrequent in NY, and either non-existent or limited in suburban/rural counties where burden of opioid-related overdose deaths is highest. Recent reports have identified pharmacy reimbursement challenges, patient affordability, and patient-anticipated stigma dampening naloxone demand as ongoing barriers ? even where extensive pharmacy-targeted overdose prevention training and education have taken place. The goal of this study is to explore barriers (eg. opioid- related stigma) and facilitators (eg. use of a state-funded co-pay reimbursement program) of pharmacy naloxone services in NY suburban/rural counties where pharmacy dispensation is low or non-existent, and overdose rates are high. In addition, we will explore pharmacist interest in coupling naloxone services with other non-stigmatizing pharmacy services to help increase uptake and support of pharmacy naloxone services (a successful stigma- reducing intervention from our prior work in the HIV arena). The diffusion of innovation provides a theoretical framework to examine adoption and rejection of pharmacy naloxone services. Specifically, we will identify pharmacist/pharmacy characteristics, experiences, and practices associated with: (i) naloxone registration status (Aim 1a), (ii) support for pharmacy naloxone services, and (iii) support for coupling naloxone with other non- stigmatizing pharmacy services (Aim 1b) among 1,000 naloxone-registered and non-registered pharmacists. We will also conduct in-depth interviews to contextualize the individual-, pharmacy-, and policy-level barriers/facilitators of pharmacy naloxone services among key stakeholders: (a) pharmacists (n=24); (b) opioid- related ED patients (n=20); and (c) community advocates/health officials (n=16) (Aim 2). We will target 8 counties with the highest opioid overdose rates in NYS to administer a pharmacist computer-assisted phone survey (online, and/or in-person also available), and 2 of those counties will be selected to conduct in-depth interviews where our research capacity has been established. Survey and qualitative data will be analyzed and triangulated for final data interpretation. Proposal significance and innovation is high given: (1) the opioid crisis and similar pharmacy naloxone policy across U.S., (2) the generalizability gained by targeting geographically and racially diverse non-urban areas, and (3) the potential for a pharmacy-based intervention that addresses stigma to follow.

Public Health Relevance

Opioid use and related overdose deaths have become an unrelenting national epidemic, and in New York State (NYS), as observed across the U.S., opioid-related overdose events are over-represented in suburban/ rural counties. In response, widespread state policies (49 states) are allowing pharmacists to dispense naloxone through a standing order, and in NYS, N-CAP (Naloxone Co-Payment Assistance Program) ? a NYS-funded reimbursement program to cover co-pays accompanying the naloxone prescription ? is new policy aimed to facilitate ease in accessing naloxone from pharmacies. Our study will select the top 8 suburban/rural counties with the highest rates of overdose deaths in NYS to examine the individual-, pharmacy-, and policy-level barriers/facilitators associated with pharmacy naloxone services using a (1) pharmacist survey, and (2) in-depth interviews among key stakeholders to inform a forthcoming pharmacy-based intervention to increase uptake and support of pharmacy naloxone services.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Community Influences on Health Behavior Study Section (CIHB)
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Zur, Julia Beth
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New York University
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
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