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At Least 6 More States Considering “Good Samaritan” Laws to Prevent Overdose Deaths

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At least six states are considering joining the 17 states that have passed “Good Samaritan” laws, designed to prevent drug overdose deaths. The laws grant limited immunity to people who seek help for someone who has overdosed, USA Today reports.

Maine, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia are considering the measures, the newspaper notes.

In addition, 17 states have expanded access to the overdose antidote naloxone. The treatment, sold under the brand name Narcan, has been used for many years by paramedics and doctors in emergency rooms. It is administered by nasal spray. The medication blocks the ability of heroin or opioid painkillers to attach to brain cells. The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy says it is encouraging police departments to carry Narcan.

North Carolina and Oklahoma are among the states that have passed Good Samaritan laws with the support of conservative Republican legislators. The measures have the support of groups including the American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators.

Republicans spearheaded Good Samaritan and naloxone legislation in North Carolina last year. According to Robert Childs, Executive Director of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, since the naloxone legislation went into effect in April, there have been 45 documented cases of overdose reversals due to the use of naloxone. The coalition has dispensed more than 700 reversal kits in the past five months.

Maine Governor Paul LePage opposes the naloxone access bill under consideration in his state. He says making naloxone more available would encourage more drug use. He also vetoed a Good Samaritan bill last year.

4 Responses to this article

  1. Excellence Singapore / July 4, 2014 at 5:38 am

    It is very vital to consider the lives that would be saved if these drugs are made available more commonly. People should be aware and responsible of their own choices and should they choose to abuse it then it should be their consequence.

  2. Daniele G / February 27, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Not everyone who OD’s is an “addict”. It can happen the first time someone uses and with teens experimenting with heroin at an alarming rate, it could be anyone’s child or grand child as well. I’d like to know in what world the availability of Narcan causes an addict to feel free to use . . . . they’re an ADDICT, which by definition means they’re not thinking too much about whether there’s an antidote before they use. I work w/teen drug users and I would like to see Gov. LaPage tell the parents of a kid who ODed on Heroin that (s)he was not worth saving because it might have encouraged him/her to use again. LaPage, needs to get on the same page as the rest of the real world. Everyone is someone’s kid, even the 30 or 40 year old addict.

  3. Avatar of Debbie
    Debbie / February 26, 2014 at 2:20 am

    It is not unreasonable to think Maine Governor Paul LePage that someday you may be forced to witness the death of someone very dear to you that could have been saved had this drug been available to them. The life of an addict is not expendable, just ask the child who just lost her mother to a drug overdose if you don’t believe me. How do you explain to the child that there is a drug that could have saved her life but it could not be used? Would you deny the alcoholic treatment that was just brought in bleeding to death from a car wreck that he caused because of his addiction to alcohol? Do you let him continue to bleed until he dies or do you take him to the operating room to repair his injuries? The drug addict should be afforded the same opportunity for a second chance in life. I hope that you educate yourself on the disease of addiction and reconsider and approve this life saving drug and revisit the Good Samaritan bill.

  4. Fr. Jack Kearney / February 25, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Lives are being saved here in L.A. because of these laws. Glad to see even conservative Republicans are on board with some proven harm reduction.

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