Colorado Doctors Hesitant To Prescribe Overdose Reversal Drug Naloxone, Study Finds

June 10, 2015

Colorado's medical providers are often hesitate to prescribe naloxone, a medication used to reverse the effects of heroin and prescription drug overdoses, according to a Kaiser Permanente Colorado study.

Colorado law allows doctors to prescribe the medication to family and friends of people suffering from addiction, people with addiction, or even people with opioid painkiller prescriptions.

But researchers identified several barriers to its use. For instance, some clinicians don’t want to offend a patient by talking about their overdose risks, says Dr. Ingrid Binswanger, a researcher with Kaiser Permanente Colorado. Others hesitate because they want to be sure it was used correctly. 

“Primary care doctors are very, very busy in practice and they need some help in how to train people to use the medication correctly, and they wanted to be sure it was dispensed and used correctly,” said Binswanger.

The study found that clinicians commonly expressed beliefs that naloxone could effectively prevent overdose deaths. Yet, only three of the 37 clinicians with prescribing authority had prescribed naloxone, according to their research. 

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