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An observational study of the extent of naloxone furnishing in California Central Valley community pharmacies



California has sought to expand medication access and improve public health by authorizing pharmacists in California to prescribe certain medications since 2014. Medications with pharmacist-initiated prescribing, or furnishing, include naloxone, hormonal contraception, postexposure prophylaxis/preexposure prophylaxis, and nicotine replacement therapy. In light of the United States' opioid epidemic, naloxone, an opioid antagonist, this study considered furnishing rates in urban areas of California. Research from 2020 found 42.5% of pharmacies furnished naloxone. However, there has been limited study of furnishing outside of urban areas.


This study assessed pharmacist furnishing rates of naloxone in California's Central Valley and identified barriers and facilitators to implementation.


From April to May 2022, the researchers first conducted a cross-sectional, observational study of community and mail-order pharmacies in California's largely rural Central Valley, then collected interview data from a subset of pharmacists in stores that indicated they furnished naloxone.


Forty-three percent of Central Valley pharmacies reported that they furnished naloxone. Interview respondents reported that barriers to furnishing included time restrictions, cost to patients, stigma, and language barriers.


Furnishing rates in the Central Valley were slightly higher (43.4%) than those reported in previous research focusing on urban areas of California (42.5%). Identified barriers to furnishing were consistent with those identified in previous research. These findings suggest that further policy interventions may be needed to reduce out-of-pocket costs, establish stronger pharmacist-provider relationships, and provide education combatting stigma against opioid users to increase naloxone furnishing.

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