SMART Policy Briefs

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Key Points

● Naloxone is a life-saving opioid antagonist that can reverse an opioid overdose. Tennessee law makes it available to anyone with or without a prescription and protects from civil suit any physician who prescribes it, and any bystander who administers it to those who they believe are experiencing an overdose.

● The vast majority of all naloxone is distributed by the Regional Opioid Prevention Specialists (ROPS). ROPS provides naloxone to the public directly, as well as to first responders, anti-drug coalitions, and other points of contact with the substance use population. Syringe service programs (SSPs) are permitted to operate in the state of Tennessee as of 2018, with distribution of naloxone among their primary responsibilities. SSPs also obtain some of their naloxone from ROPS.

● Production delays, among other factors, have led to a nationwide shortage of naloxone. This has increased the urgency of improving naloxone distribution policies.


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