Law Would Expand Use of Overdose-Reversing Drug

Published: Mar. 11, 2015 at 3:59 PM EDT
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New legislation aiming to save lives is waiting for Governor Terry McAuliffe's signature. If signed, the law would allow firefighters, law enforcement and first responders to carry and administer a drug that can reverse a drug overdose.

Some members of the New Market Fire and Rescue Company have already been using naloxone for years. In seconds, it can reverse an overdose and save a life.

Someone suffering from an overdose from opiates, like painkillers and heroin, will stop breathing. That's why responders call naloxone a miracle drug, because it can wake-up a near-death victim and get the person breathing normally again.

In cases of narcotic overdosing, law enforcement usually arrive first and cannot let responders in until they've cleared the scene. That's why an enhanced-level provider with Shenandoah Fire and Rescue, Jamey Mantz, said it's a good idea for them to have access to naloxone; however, he has mixed feelings regarding widespread use of the drug.

"Great for the elderly individual who accidentally overdoses themselves on a narcotic. We've had that before, where the overdose is an accident," said Mantz. "But I hate to see it used as a crutch, so to speak, for narcotic addicts."

Naloxone has reversed more than 10,000 overdoses in 14 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On March 11, U.S. senators, including Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, introduced the Opioid Overdose Reduction Act that would protect responders, family members and volunteers from a lawsuit in administering naloxone in an emergency situation.

We will keep track of this legislation and let you know if it moves forward.