Bill makes the drug available without a prescription to help reverse heroin overdoses
The House gave final approval Thursday to legislation that provides wider distribution of the medicine Naloxone, making the drug available without a prescription to help reverse life-threatening heroin overdoses.
The legislation, which now goes to Gov. Jack Markell for his signature, passed the House unanimously, making the medicine available at a low cost upon completion of a training course administered by the state Department of Health and Social Services.
Markell said Thursday he will sign the bill into law.
« We know addiction is a disease. It should be treated as a disease. We don’t today have a system which I think reflects the best practices in terms of how we support people, » Markell said. « I have met with enough families whose loved ones have suffered from addiction to know that this is a really important issue facing a lot of people in the state. »
One of those people is David Humes, who lost his son Greg in 2012 after a heroin overdose. »I’m feeling relieved, humbled and overwhelmed all at once, » he said Thursday. « I know there are going to be a lot of parents that are going to be relieved that they will have access to Naloxone and keep it available to save lives. »
Since his son passed away, Humes has campaigned with the group atTAcK addiction to both keep the memory of his son alive and bring Naloxone to more Delawareans, along with other measures aimed at helping addicts.
He summed up the feeling of the bill’s final passage with a Portuguese term: saudade.
« It’s the love that remains, » Humes said. « It’s both the feeling of extreme joy and yet that feeling of loss. »
Current state law allows friends and family members to purchase the medication when a prescription is written for the person struggling with addiction. But few, if any, doctors have prescribed the medication and pharmacies generally don’t carry it.
Naloxone comes in several forms, including Narcan, a nasal spray. It would cost pharmacies roughly $46 to order the medication, but the cost to patients is unknown. Many insurance companies don’t cover its purchase.
The House also approved another Naloxone-related piece of legislation Thursday on a vote of 40 to 1. The lone no vote was Rep. Stephen Smyk, a Milton Republican.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Michael A. Barbieri, a Newark Democrat, allows the state’s police officers to carry and administer Naloxone upon completion of that state-sponsored course.
Barbieri said that some departments, including New Castle County Police, are interested in the drug. The bill was crafted to allow them to choose whether to partake in the program and carry the drug.
That bill now heads to the Senate for a committee hearing.
Contact Jon Offredo at (302) 678-4271 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jonoffredo.