Island boards of health are considering establishing a program to cover the cost of naloxone rescue kits. Naloxone is an antidote for opioid overdoses commonly sold under the brand name Narcan.

The idea was first discussed at a Chilmark board of health meeting early this month with further discussion at a meeting of Island health agents. Agents in attendance represented every town but West Tisbury.

Marina Lent, health agent for Chilmark, said the suggestion first came from board member Jan Buhrman.

“She brought it up at a meeting and said that she had heard about a person who came to a pharmacy, inquired about getting Narcan, and when she heard about the co-pay, she turned on her heel and walked out the door,” Ms. Lent said.

Though the proposal is still in the development phase, the idea has seen a positive reception among health agents and county officials.

County manager Martina Thornton attended the meeting of the health agents and said the county is willing to allocate between $500 to $1,000 to support the effort.

Co-payments for naloxone vary according to insurance provider and plan. People insured by Mass Health can obtain the drug for free. For people without health insurance, the out-of-pocket cost is $46, according to Warren Holmberg, who is a pharmacist at Leslie’s Pharmacy in Vineyard Haven.

Ms. Lent said that the initiative could at least cover co-payments, and could potentially also cover the full cost of the drug for the uninsured.

“I think it makes a lot of sense to remove the barriers,” she said.

Some Island pharmacies took action last spring to remove barriers to naloxone access.

Both Conroy’s locations and Leslie’s have a standing order for naloxone, which allows Islanders to obtain the drug without a prescription.

The orders were written by Dr. Alexander Walley, director of the Addiction Medicine Fellowship at Boston Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

When a physician writes a pharmacy a standing order for naloxone, its pharmacists must complete a training on the rescue kits and overdose prevention. The pharmacists can then dispense the drug on the spot after showing the customer how to use the product and providing them with a pamphlet with instructions for use.

Dr. Walley said he has been writing standing orders since 2014, when the state first established the protocol.

He has family on the Island, and said bringing his efforts here was a natural next step. “I was doing this work and I was aware that Martha’s Vineyard didn’t have a lot of overdose prevention going on, and so… I started contacting the pharmacies to see whether they were willing to have a standing order.”

Mr. Holmberg described demand for naloxone so far as minimal. He added: “I definitely think there’s the need. Whether somebody wants to go through with getting it, that I couldn’t say for sure. But there’s definitely a need for it.”

Ms. Lent said she hopes an Islandwide board of health initiative might increase the visibility of the issue. “It’s the buy in, it’s the public indication that this is a priority, that this is an issue that we want to address,” she said.

Dr. Walley expanded on the value of public awareness. “The naloxone rescue kits are not just for people themselves who have a risk of overdose, it’s really for their social networks, their friends and family and the people that work with them. That’s why we need wider access in the community, and we shouldn’t be restricting it, because it can’t be misused and there are not really adverse events from administering it, so there’s a lot of upside and not a lot of downside.”