States are rapidly modifying law and policy to increase access to the opioid antidote naloxone, and the provision of naloxone rescue kits (NRK) for use in the event of overdose is becoming increasingly common. As of late 2014 the majority of states had passed laws increasing naloxone access, and nearly as many have modified emergency responder scope of practice protocols to permit Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and law enforcement officers to administer the medication. While the text of these laws is generally similar, their implementation varies among states.
This article outlines experiences and lessons learned from two diverse states, Massachusetts and North Carolina. In Massachusetts naloxone access initiatives were well underway before formal legislative action occurred, while in North Carolina the passage of a naloxone access law served as a catalyst for the creation of new programs and facilitated the scale-up of existing ones. In both states legislative action was necessary to permit the prescription and dispensing of naloxone to the friends and family members of people who use opioids, a key legal change.