Two new laws will increase Narcan availability to prevent overdose deaths
STATE HOUSE – Two bills passed by the General Assembly to help prevent opioid overdose deaths through increased access to Narcan have been signed into law.
The first bill(2018-S 2930, 2018-H 8313), sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller and Rep. David A. Bennett, requires the Department of Health to develop and distribute best practices guidelines for “co-prescribing” naloxone — the opioid-overdose antidote commonly known by its trade name, Narcan — when also prescribing an opioid to patients who are at an elevated risk of overdosing. It requires the development of strategies for practitioners in non-pharmacy settings to prescribe and dispense naloxone while ensuring health insurance reimbursement.
“The American Medical Association encourages physicians to consider co-prescribing Narcan to patients who are taking opioids whenever it’s clinically appropriate, because having that antidote readily available saves lives. We can help prevent needless overdose deaths here in Rhode Island by having the Department of Health provide doctors with guidelines to assist them in identifying high-risk situations and encourage them to co-prescribe Narcan so it’s ready if it’s needed,” said Senator Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence).
Said Representative Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston), “This is one more tool for saving lives from the opioid epidemic. Opioid addiction and overdoses are a complicated public health crisis, and we have to address it from every possible angle, from insurance coverage to preventing deaths by making sure Narcan is available quickly when someone overdoses. Both these bills are ways we can get Narcan into the hands of people who might overdose, or in the possession of their family or friends, so it’s available if the worst happens.”
The second bill (2018-H 8333A, 2018-S 3004A) amends the state’s Good Samaritan law to allow police and medical personnel to provide naloxone with instructions for its use to individuals who are at substantial risk for an overdose, or a family member or friend.
“Narcan can save lives only if it’s available when a person needs it. Police and EMTs are the ground-level people who are familiar with many of the individuals who are struggling with addiction in our communities. They should be able to provide this life-saving antidote to those who they think need it. The more available Narcan is, the more lives it can save from overdose,” said Senator Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket).
Both bills passed the General Assembly June 23, were signed into law by Gov. Gina M. Raimondo July 2, and became effective immediately.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903