Availability and Cost of Naloxone Nasal Spray at Pharmacies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2017

Jenny S. Guadamuz, G. Caleb Alexander, Tanya Chaudhri, Rebecca Trotzky-Sirr, Dima M. Qato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Importance: Despite the increasingly important role of pharmacies in the implementation of naloxone access laws, there is limited information on the impact of such laws at the local level. Objective: To evaluate the availability (with or without a prescription) and cost of naloxone nasal spray at pharmacies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, following a statewide standing order enacted in Pennsylvania in August 2015 to allow pharmacies to dispense naloxone without a prescription. Design, Setting, and Participants: A survey study was conducted by telephone of all pharmacies in Philadelphia between February and August 2017. Pharmacies were geocoded and linked with the American Community Survey (2011-2015) to obtain information on the demographic characteristics of census tracts and the Medical Examiner's Office of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to derive information on the number of opioid overdose deaths per 100 000 people for each planning district. Data were analyzed from March 2018 to February 2019. Main Outcomes and Measures: Availability and out-of-pocket cost of naloxone nasal spray (with or without a prescription) at Philadelphia pharmacies overall and by pharmacy and neighborhood characteristics. Results: Of 454 eligible pharmacies, 418 were surveyed (92.1% response rate). One in 3 pharmacies (34.2%) had naloxone nasal spray in stock; of these, 61.5% indicated it was available without a prescription. There were significant differences in the availability of naloxone by pharmacy type and neighborhood characteristics. Naloxone was both more likely to be in stock (45.9% vs 27.8%; difference, 18.0%; 95% CI, 8.3%-27.8%; P < .001) and available without a prescription (80.6% vs 42.2%; difference, 38.4%; 95% CI, 23.0%-53.8%; P < .001) in chain stores than in independent stores. Naloxone was also less likely to be available in planning districts with very elevated rates of opioid overdose death (≥50 per 100 000 people) compared with those with lower rates (31.1% vs 38.5%). The median (interquartile range) out-of-pocket cost among pharmacies offering naloxone without a prescription was $145 ($119-$150); costs were greatest in independent pharmacies and planning districts with elevated rates of opioid overdose death. Conclusions and Relevance: Despite the implementation of a statewide standing order in Pennsylvania more than 3 years prior to this study, only one-third of Philadelphia pharmacies carried naloxone nasal spray and many also required a physician's prescription. Efforts to strengthen the implementation of naloxone access laws and better ensure naloxone supply at local pharmacies are warranted, especially in localities with the highest rates of overdose death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e195388
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 5 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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