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Immunity for overdose reports clears legislature

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on March 1, 2010 at 7:13 pm with 5 Comments »
March 1, 2010 7:13 pm

A bill that won final legislative approval Sunday aims to persuade people to call for help when a friend is overdosing on drugs.

If signed by the governor, SB 5516 will bar prosecution of people who report an overdose. Sen. Rosa Franklin sought the legislation after a Puyallup teenager, Danielle McCarthy, overdosed on Ecstasy in 2007 and died after fellow partiers failed to get medical help for her. Franklin said in a statement:

“Many of these people could be saved, but their friends are scared of prosecution and gamble that their friends will make it through without medical help.”

The immunity doesn’t apply to the person who gave or sold the drugs.

The bill also allows use of the drug Naloxone to stop an overdose. Rep. Bill Hinkle, a former paramedic, objected to letting untrained people administer the drug. He predicted drug users would die while their friends try to administer Naloxone instead of calling 911.

Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. mmcooke3 says:

    Naloxone use is a proven public health approach to saving lives during overdose situations.

    Naloxone distribution programs have been successfully implemented in several states, including New Mexico, New York, and Massachusetts.

    Here are two articles from this week, which address the success of naloxone distribution.

    “Overdose kits credited with saving lives”: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100301/NEWS/3010351/-1/NEWS

    “NYC Reports Drop in Fatal Overdoses”: http://www.wnyc.org/news/articles/150972

  2. acholcomb says:

    Another article reporting on naloxone’s success in saving lives: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1235132

  3. Sometimes the only way to save someone’s life during an overdose is to administer naloxone immediately, and even when someone calls 911, the emergency responders may not be able to reach the person in time.. By increasing the distribution of naloxone, people are more likely to have it available when someone nearby overdoses, which can keep them alive until emergency responders can reach the scene.

  4. Rep. Bill Hinkle has concerns about untrained people administering narcan, if the program is modeled after any of the other programs in the US all responders are trained in the use. We heard this same fear mongering when we started the Massachusetts program, we have had a successful ongoing program for almost 2 years and ahve just celerbrated the 500th OD reversal due to the program of overdose. So I’d suggest the Rep talk to anyone of the parents that had a child saved due to the project about how they feel on the issue. He should also look into what has been happening at similar programs around the country to get the real info on how these programs are run before discribing program guidelines that it seems he knows nothing about.

  5. naloxonesaves says:

    There are over 100 Naloxone training programs operating across the United States in at least 21 states, some that have been in operation for over 10 years. Those of us who work in these programs witness their successes every day, when we hear the stories of individuals who have been trained to use naloxone saving their friends, family, and loved ones. We also see the impact of these programs in decreased overdose death rates in several areas where this data is available (see the NY article cited above, as a great example). These programs provide a LIFE-SAVING tool to drug users and the friends and families of drug users. In San Francisco, the overdose prevention and naloxone prescription program has trained over 2,000 individuals to use naloxone and provide rescue breathing and call 911 in an overdose situation and have had over 450 overdose reversals reported. That is 450 lives saved by the capable and caring hands of the people who have been trained to use naloxone. I would strongly urge Rep. Hinkle and the Washington legislature to learn about these programs and the profound life-saving impact they can have before jumping to any conclusions about their efficacy.

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