State Capitol Week in Review
LITTLE ROCK – State officials announced that school nurses will be provided with kits containing naloxone nasal spray, which helps keep alive people alive when they have overdosed on painkillers known as opioids. According to state drug officials, there have been three cases of opioid overdoses in Arkansas high schools in the past year. Over the past two years, emergency first responders have revived 262 Arkansans who were in danger of dying from an overdose. Naloxone allows them to continue breathing so that they have time to get emergency medical treatment. Equipping about 1,100 school nurses with a naloxone kit is the most recent in the state’s efforts to fight the deadly effects of opioid abuse. Arkansas is among the nation’s leaders in abuse of prescription painkillers. In 2017 the legislature approved Act 284, which authorized 6,100 pharmacists in Arkansas to dispense naloxone without a prior prescription in cases of an overdose. Also in 2017 the legislature added employees of the state Crime Lab to the list of responders who could get naloxone kits from pharmacists. The list include family members of people in danger of dying from an overdose, as well as first responders and emergency medical technicians. Earlier this year, the Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute distributed naloxone kits to 1,390 first responders and police officers, funded through a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Blue and You Foundation. Act 1114 of 2015 provides immunity from criminal prosecution for people who bring overdose victims to a hospital. We became the 15th state to enact so-called “medical amnesty” laws. It was inspired by the case of a young man in Faulkner County who died of a drug overdose within a couple of blocks from a hospital. Act 447 of 2019 requires that prescriptions of controlled substances be done electronically. This strengthened an existing law, Act 304 of 2011, which created the Arkansas Electronic Prescription Monitoring Program.
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