Morning Journal: Manning Legislation Could Prevent Overdoses
Article from the Lorain Morning Journal, By Jason Henry
May 16, 2013
 
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Read the article on the Morning Journal's website here.

LORAIN- The Ohio Senate passed a bill to establish a pilot program in Lorain County that allows use of an overdose reversing nasal spray by firefighters and police officers.

Ohio Senate Bill 57, if passed by the House of Representatives, would expand access to Narcan, a brand name of naloxone, to those who are often the first on the scene.

Currently, Ohio law only allows Narcan to be used by paramedics.

Narcan buys victims time to reach a hospital by temporarily reversing the effects of any opioid, such as heroin or prescription pain killers.

The medication has not been found to have any adverse effects on someone who is not affected by an opioid, making it safe for use in cases where the drug used is unknown, proponents have said.

There has been a heavy push from Lorain County officials, led by Coroner Dr. Stephen Evans, to make Narcan available as a means of combating a skyrocketing overdose death rate in the county.

Nearly three times as many people died from overdoses in Lorain County in 2012 than in 2011. More than 20 people have already died from overdoses this year.

State Sen. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville, introduced the bill on the behalf of county officials in February after receiving a letter from Lorain Police Chief Cel Rivera.

“It would be a tragedy not to save lives right here in Lorain County when the resources are quite possibly right at our finger tips,” Manning stated.

Rivera wrote in his letter that it was a “common sense solution” to allow police officers, who often arrive before paramedics, to carry the medication. Many of Lorain’s officers are also trained paramedics and EMTs who are familiar with Narcan, he said.

The training could take as little as 15 minutes to familiarize others with the spray, he said.

Narcan has to be prescribed and Evans has volunteered to act as a dispensary for county agencies, he said previously. His office would also be responsible for training.

The program does not get any state funding, but Rivera previously said Lorain could cover its costs through the department’s drug forfeiture funds. A Narcan kit costs roughly $20.

Participating agencies will be required to keep records every time Narcan is prescribed and when it is used. Those reports will then be sent to the Lorain County Drug Task Force, the Lorain County coroner and the director of the Ohio Department of Health for study. An overall study on the effectiveness of the program will then be sent to the governor, the Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services and legislative leaders.

The hope is a successful program in Lorain County will lead to a statewide rollout of the change, Manning said previously.

It was unclear exactly when the Ohio House would take up deliberations. The bill has a program start date of Aug. 1 and Manning hopes the House will take action by then, a spokesman said.

 
 
 
  
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