COLUMBUS, Ohio – Access to the medication naloxone hydrochloride, used to fight overdoses of painkillers and heroin, would be expanded in Ohio, under a bill advancing in the Ohio House sponsored by state Rep. Michael Stinziano.
The measure, co-sponsored by state Rep. Terry Johnson of McDermott, was approved by the House Heath and Aging Committee Wednesday. The bill, which would also reduce regulatory red tape to provide naloxone to those who are at risk of overdose, awaits consideration by the full Ohio House.
“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 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 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.
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.
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.