COLUMBUS, Ohio – Access to the medication naloxone, used to reverse overdoses of opioid painkillers and heroin, would be expanded in Ohio, under a bill sponsored by state Rep. Michael Stinziano.
The measure, co-sponsored by Rep. Terry Johnson, would reduce regulatory red tape to provide naloxone to those who are at risk of overdose.
“Expanding access to this life-saving drug is one small step in the fight against prescription drug-abuse, which has reached epidemic status throughout Ohio,” said Stinziano, a Columbus Democrat.
To date, 9 states (New Mexico, New York, California, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois and Washington) have removed regulatory barriers on who may prescribe, dispense and administer this very safe medication and the Ohio bill would:
- Provide criminal liability protection to health-care providers who prescribe the medication.
- Authorize Advance Practice Nurses and Physician Assistants to dispense the medication.
- Permit family, friends and emergency services personnel (including law enforcement) to possess and administer the medication.
One Ohio program, Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided with Naloxone), housed at the Portsmouth City Health Department, is limited by current state law but has managed to save at least seven lives since its inception less than a year ago. Studies show that communities with naloxone distribution programs, like Project DAWN, have lower overdose rates than areas without an existing program.
According to a recent report by the Ohio Department of Health, state statistics show that drug overdoses in Ohio have increased 440 percent in the last ten years and the increase in fatalities stems largely from prescription pain killer overdoses. Unintentional drug overdoses caused 1,765 deaths to Ohio residents in 2011, which is the equivalent of 5 Ohioans dying every day.
Naloxone is specifically used to counteract life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system caused by prescription opioids and heroin. According to medical authorities, Naloxone is a safe medication that has no potential for abuse.
The proposal will be assigned to a standing House committee for further review.