Ohio is the latest state to consider making the opioid overdose antidote naloxone available to those at high risk, USA Today reports. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is expected to sign a similar bill this summer.
Under a bill to be introduced this week by Ohio State Senator Eric Kearney, the state health department would create a training program for safely administering naloxone. The bill would make the drug available to relatives and friends of people addicted to opioid painkillers or heroin.
Proponents of naloxone distribution in Ohio want two doses of the drug to be included in kits, which would be made widely available. Currently, naloxone can be prescribed in Ohio by a doctor to patients who are at risk of an overdose. It is used in hospital emergency departments and by emergency medical personnel.
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.