By Eden Laikin
The State Senate this week voted unanimously for a bill that would vastly expand access to a life-saving medication called naloxone (Narcan), which can prevent overdose deaths involving heroin and prescription opioids, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced this week. The Assembly is expected to pass a companion bill shortly.
The legislation, sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau), would solve the problem of having to have a “licensed prescriber” on site, to give out the Narcan to those in need. And, it would open the door to having it available in pharmacies.
Overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the country, according to the CDC. It has been estimated that heroin addiction on Long Island has increased nearly fourfold since 2011
“This bill helps us get Naloxone into the hands of families who need it.,” County Executive Mangano said. “Naloxone saves lives and gives people struggling with addiction a second chance at life and a second chance to experience recovery.”
Access to this opioid overdose antidote will equip families and loved ones likely to discover an overdose victim with the ability to save their life.
Naloxone is a safe, easy-to-administer, and highly effective overdose antidote. The Nassau County Department of Human Services, Office of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency has trained more than 1,300 people since becoming a state-certified Overdose Prevention Program in 2012. It’s largely been distributed to people likely to witness an opioid overdose. No prior medical experience is necessary to become trained in administered Narcan and since it does no harm, you can’t be sued for using it in an emergency situation. It’s already saved thousands of lives across the country.
But, currently, at the end of the 60-minute training, an MD or other prescriber, must be present and write a prescription to the trainee to have the medication. Experts say Narcan is safer than many over-the-counter drugs.