WVPA Sharing

Governor, Legislature applauded for the Access to Opioid Antagonists Act.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Shatterproof, the first national organization committed to supporting research, advocacy and resources for those affected by the disease of addiction to alcohol or other drugs, has recognized Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and West Virginia lawmakers for passing the Access to Opioid Antagonists Act.  

The bill (Senate Bill 335) was requested by Gov. Tomblin and passed this week with broad bi-partisan support.  The new law will expand access to the overdose-reversal medicine, naloxone. Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is a non-addictive, FDA approved medication that immediately reverses an overdose from opioids (i.e. heroin and prescription painkillers) and has already saved more than 10,000 lives in the U.S.

“Simply put, naloxone saves lives; and the more people who can have access to the medication the more lives can be saved,” said Gary Mendell, founder and CEO of Shatterproof. “Every number added to the statistic of overdose deaths is another loved-one gone far too soon. West Virginia is facing the tragic epidemic of drug abuse head-on with the passage of this commonsense measure to put a vital medication directly in the hands of the people who can administer it the fastest.”

West Virginia has the highest drug overdose mortality rate in the nation, and current state law allows only some medical professionals to administer naloxone to overdose victims. SB 335 expands access to naloxone so that emergency first responders, police and firefighters can administer naloxone immediately upon arriving at the scene. The bill will also allow the life-saving medication to be available for friends, family members and caregivers to administer naloxone legally for the first time in West Virginia.

“Shatterproof applauds West Virginia for passing SB 335 and looks ahead to working with legislators on passing the Overdose Prevention Act (SB 18), a companion ‘911 Good Samaritan’ bill, to further strengthen the state’s efforts to combat the epidemic of addiction and overdose deaths. This bill would ensure that individuals calling 911 to save a life by reporting a drug overdose are not subject to arrest for drug-related charges,” according to Shatterproof spokesperson.

“All too often, people delay or refrain from placing that critical call for emergency assistance when a friend or loved one is experiencing an overdose out of fear of legal ramifications,” said David Humes, a father and advocate who lost his son to the disease of addiction. “The speed with which medical assistance is administered often means life or death during an overdose, and West Virginians need to know that they can and should call 911 without hesitation when witnessing an emergency situation. And just think, if overdose witnesses don’t make the call, emergency responders have no opportunity to administer naloxone that is now more accessible in West Virginia.  If a Good Samaritan law had existed in my home state, my son would be alive today.”

Shatterproof’s mission is to protect our children from addiction to alcohol or other drugs and end the stigma and suffering of those affected by this disease. Visit the website at www.shatterproof.org.

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