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New Law Addresses Overdoses

A law passed in this legislative session now allows first responders to administer a life-saving antidote for narcotic overdoses. The legislation was introduced as House Bill 1782 and covers a collection of items related to drug abuse in the state.

The ability for first responders, often police, to act immediately when there has been an overdose of narcotics, means that overdose victims will have a better chance at recovery. Primarily directed at injectable drug overdoses, including heroin, the antidote given is Narcan. This drug blocks the effects of opioids and can reverse the life threatening symptoms. It already finds use in emergency rooms and is given to stop the breathing suppression that comes from opioid overdose.

Concerns about non-medical personnel giving a drug, especially one that has to be injected, have been overcome with a new route of administration. Narcan can now be given by spraying it up a victim’s nose. The tissue inside the sinus cavity absorbs enough of the drug to make this an alternative to injection, meaning that non-medically trained law enforcement could use the drug without having to deal with needles.

Family members of addicts can also get permission to have Narcan available and won’t be prosecuted for giving it without a prescription. The law places this under our existing Good Samaritan Act which prevents prosecution in cases where taking action is deemed medically necessary and can be done without legal consequences, even though the overdosed drug may be illegal.

One other group is mentioned specifically – medical personnel who work in schools. This means that a school nurse may now be in a position to administer a lifesaving antidote to a student.

The law doesn’t specify the intranasal dosage form or Narcan specifically; it just mentions “opiate antagonists.” However, Narcan is the standard treatment and highly effective.

The law takes effect November 1st.

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