Legal Aspects of Providing Naloxone to Heroin Users in the United States
International Journal of Drug Policy, Vol. 12, pp. 237-48, 2001
25 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2001
Naloxone hydrochloride is the standard treatment for heroin overdose. It is routinely provided by EMTs or emergency room staff. This medication is simple to administer, effective and has a very low risk of harm. Prescribing naloxone to heroin users for later self-administration in case of need is a simple, inexpensive harm-reduction measure that has the potential to reduce mortality from heroin overdose. Some physicians may be discouraged from distributing naloxone, however, by legal concerns. The legal analysis presented in this paper finds that the legal risks are low. Prescribing naloxone is fully consistent with state and federal laws regulating drug prescribing. The risks of malpractice liability are consistent with those generally associated with providing health care, and can be further minimized by following simple guidelines presented. Legal considerations should therefore not be a major impediment to wider use of take-home naloxone as an anti-overdose intervention in the United States.
Note: This is a description of the article and not the actual abstract.
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