Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Opinion

February 20, 2013

In Your View

(Continued)

ASHLAND — Bill would help save lives in state

During the past several years, this and many other Kentucky newspapers have chronicled the worsening narcotic (opioid) pain medicine epidemic sapping the life and vitality of our residents. Our state’s political and medical leadership have been engaged in reducing harm from pain medicines and heroin for several years. But at least so far, the trend line is still deteriorating, demonstrated by the fact more of our residents lose their lives each year.

Several states have adopted a new opioid harm reduction strategy by expanding access to the pain medicine antidote known as Narcan, or naloxone, injection.  Naloxone is a very old medication used every day in emergency medicine, ambulances and operative recovery rooms to reverse the effects of opiod pain medicines.

At least 10 states have passed laws permitting the medical and pharmacy practices of naloxone access to high-risk patients. Laws are needed so physicians can prescribe a medication for the patient that will likely be administered by a third person. Prescriptions can generally only be in the hands of the patient and administered by the patient. That is not possible in this case. The rescuer is acting as a Good Samaritan and needs protection from laws in which the person could be liable for the illegal practice of medicine, criminal battery for administering a medication to an unconscious person and potential civil liability.

Rep. Thomas Burch, D-Louisville, has introduced HB 79, which is designed to initiate this practice in Kentucky. 

This bill is an excellent start for our state.

 House Bill 79 should be heard and adopted to help our state reduce opioid-related mortality as has occurred in other states adopting the practice. States with these laws now have a lower per capita opioid mortality rate than Kentucky. Please urge your legislator to pass HB 79.

 Daniel Wermeling, pharmacist, Lexington

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