A local nonprofit organization is the first in Franklin County to start selling naloxone without a prescription, according to the state board that oversees distribution.

A local nonprofit organization is the first in Franklin County to start selling naloxone without a prescription, according to the state board that oversees distribution.

The AIDS Resource Center Ohio, through its subsidiary, AMC Ohio Pharmacy in the Short North, is dispensing the drug, which is said to help prevent overdoses by reversing the effects of narcotics.

The drug became available at the pharmacy Sept. 2, according to a release from the resource center.

"We believe it is a natural extension of our work as a nonprofit, community health-focused organization that deals with issues relating to public health," said Joel Diaz, a spokesman for the resource center. "We have a long history of working with marginalized communities and don't shy away from the issues that are overlooked because of the nature of the work."

The drug has no age restriction but those seeking it first must undergo a brief counseling session at the pharmacy, 1033 N. High St., Diaz said. Patients must purchase a minimum order of two doses of the nasal spray at a cost of $100, which may be billed to insurance or Medicaid.

Those seeking intramuscular injections or oral doses of naloxone must order it ahead of time, Diaz said.

He said it is not a substitute for emergency-medical care for someone in the throes of an overdose. However, naloxone, often sold under such brand names as Evzio, Nalone, Narcan, Narcanti, Nalone, Prenoxad injection and others, has been known to save lives by reversing the effects of opioids and opiates during an overdose, he said.

The resource center's officials decided to pursue naloxone for its patients after House Bill 4 was passed into law last summer, authorizing pharmacists or pharmacy interns to dispense the drug without a prescription, in accordance with a physician-approved protocol.

The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy must be notified of pharmacies distributing naloxone, and each must consult a physician who authorizes the pharmacy to dispense the medication.

Other independent pharmacies across Ohio, about one or two a week, have started offering naloxone, but the chain stores have yet to follow, said Cameron McNamee, a spokesman for the state pharmacy board.

The legislation has had support from such institutions as Columbus Public Health.

"We hope others will join," said Jose Rodriguez, a spokesman for the agency. "We think easy access to Narcan will change lives, will save lives."

Dr. Steve Matson, an addiction expert at Nationwide Children's Hospital, said he sees little disadvantage in naloxone use, even when a physician or medical expert is not present.

"There virtually is nothing that can go bad if you use it (properly)," he said. "And it saves lives."

Matson said he would like to see more citywide harm-reduction efforts, which often include clean-needle exchanges. Columbus Public Health is considering establishing such centers that would have comprehensive addiction services.