COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Access to the medication naloxone hydrochloride, used to fight overdoses of painkillers and heroin, would be expanded in Ohio, under a bill signed into law by Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday.

The measure, which was sponsored by state Reps. Michael Stinziano of Columbus and Terry Johnson of McDermott, had been approved by the Legislature to reduce regulatory red tape to provide naloxone to those who are at risk of overdose.

“Expanding access to this life-saving drug is an important step in the fight against prescription drug-abuse, which has reached epidemic status,” said Stinziano.

16 other states have brought down the barriers on who may prescribe, dispense and administer this very safe medication.  The Ohio law will:

  • Provide criminal liability protection to health-care providers who prescribe the medication to friends and family of drug addicts.
  • 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 since its inception in June of 2012 has managed to save 26 lives.

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 have increased 440 percent in the last ten years with the increase in fatalities stemming 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 it is impossible to overdose on it.