COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Access to the medication naloxone hydrochloride, used to fight overdoses of painkillers and heroin, would be expanded in Ohio, under a bill approved by the Ohio House sponsored by state Rep. Michael Stinziano.
The measure, co-sponsored by state Rep. Terry Johnson of McDermott, was approved by the full House on Wednesday and would reduce regulatory red tape to provide naloxone to those who are at risk of overdose.
The measure now goes to the Ohio Senate for consideration.
“Expanding access to this life-saving drug is one small step in the fight against prescription drug-abuse, which has reached epidemic status,” said Stinziano, a Columbus Democrat. “I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to support this common-sense approach.”
States have brought down the barriers on who may prescribe, dispense and administer this very safe medication and the Ohio bill would:
▪ Provide criminal and civil liability protection to health-care providers who prescribe the medication to friends and family.
▪ Authorize Advance Practice Nurses and Physician Assistants to dispense the medication.
▪ Permit family, friends and emergency services personnel to possess and administer the medication.
Programs that provide naloxone such as the Health Department’s Project DAWN, which stands for Deaths Avoided with Naloxone that provide this medication will benefit from this legislation. Project DAWN, currently operating in 3 counties, provides comprehensive training to at-risk individuals on how to respond to a life threatening overdose, including the proper administration of naloxone. This program is already credited with saving over 30 Ohioans from drug overdose in less than a year and a half.
The program was named for Lesley Dawn Cooper, who struggled with addictions for years before dying in an overdose in 2009.
According to Stinziano, state statistics show that drug overdoses in Ohio has increased 440 percent in the last ten years and the increase in fatalities stems largely from prescription pain killer overdoses.
Naloxone is specifically used to counteract life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system. According to medical authorities, naloxone has no potential for abuse and that it is impossible to overdose on it.