CVS, hospitals undertake naloxone pharmacy study


Researchers plan to study the best way to deploy pharmacy-based naloxone rescue kits to help prevent opioid overdoses and deaths.

Researchers at Boston Medical Center, with help from CVS Health and Rhode Island Hospital, plan to study pharmacy-based naloxone rescue kits to help prevent opioid overdoses and deaths.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) provided BMC with a $1.3 million grant to undertake the demonstration project in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The study will track and analyze data from the participating pharmacies to develop best practices for a national pharmacy-based naloxone rescue kit program.

 “While education and intervention have come a long way in the past several years, there is still a lot of work to be done to reduce opioid overdose and overdose death,” said the study’s principal investigator, Traci C. Green, PhD, MSc, deputy director of the Injury Prevention Center at BMC and associate professor of emergency medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. “Pharmacies have enormous potential to expand the reach and impact of critical public health interventions, just as we have seen happen with pharmacy access to clean syringes and adult immunizations.”

To address the growing opioid epidemic, hospitals and pharmacies in both states recently began providing naloxone to patients with substance use disorder and their family members for immediate use following an overdose. While Massachusetts provides state-funded community programs that train and equip family, friends, and people who use opioids in overdose recognition and naloxone administration, similar infrastructure is absent in most states, including Rhode Island.

The study will look at how pharmacies can be leveraged in both settings to increase naloxone distribution. 


Green and Alexander Walley, MD, the medical director of the Massachusetts naloxone program and a co-investigator on this study, in collaboration with Josiah Rich, MD, MPH, a physician at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, and Jeffrey Bratberg, PharmD, from the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy, developed protocols for pharmacies to supply, order, and provide naloxone to patients.

The protocols are in place throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island pharmacies, including the 418 CVS pharmacies and all Eaton Apothecary locations in the two states. 

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