COLUMBUS, Ohio – Access to the medication naloxone hydrochloride, used to fight overdoses of painkillers and heroin, would be expanded in Ohio under a bill sponsored by state Rep. Michael Stinziano which passed the Senate Wednesday.

The measure, co-sponsored by state Rep. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, would reduce regulatory red tape to provide naloxone to those who are at risk of overdose.

The bill has passed the House, but will have to return to that chamber to approve Senate-passed changes.

“Expanding access to this life-saving drug is one small step in the fight against prescription drug-abuse, which has become an epidemic,” said Stinziano, a Columbus Democrat.

Several other states have eased restrictions 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.
  •  Allow 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 saved more than 20 lives since its inception in 2012

The program is named for Lesley Dawn Cooper, who struggled with addictions for years before dying in an overdose in 2009.

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, according to Stinziano.

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.