A bill that would allow doctors to prescribe the opioid-overdose antidote naloxone is expected to be signed this summer by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Cincinnati.com reports. The bill also would allow pharmacists to distribute the antidote.
Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, safely reverses the potentially fatal side effects of an overdose of oxycodone, heroin and other opioids. It has been routinely used by emergency rooms and ambulance crews for decades. In the past few years, naloxone has been distributed free to opioid users and their loved ones, in a growing number of sites around the country.
A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that widely distributing naloxone, and training people in how to use it, could save many lives. It has successfully reversed more than 10,000 drug overdoses since 1996, according to the CDC report. Naloxone is not effective in treating drug overdoses that do not involve opioids.
“It is clearly defined that people are dying from opiate overdoses – whether by prescribed medications or heroin,” Northern Kentucky public health activist Dr. Jeremy Engel told Cincinnati.com. “Either way, with this medication lives have been saved. Once your life’s been saved you have a chance to make better choices. If you’re dead, you don’t. I think it’s a win-win-win.”