New Washington law intended to increase
access for heroin overdose treatment drug
access for heroin overdose treatment drug
A new Washington state law that will make it easier for law enforcement and others who are not medical doctors to administer a life-saving medication used to treat heroin overdoses is now in effect.
The state’s new “Naloxone Law” enacted by House Bill 1671, passed both the House and Senate unanimously during the 2015 session and was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on May 8. It took effect on July 24.
Naloxone, marketed under the names Evzio and Narcan, is used to counter the effects of opioids such as heroin, especially in instances of overdose. The drug can be administered either by spraying it into the nose, by injecting it into a muscle or intravenously. It reverses the effects of an opioid overdose blocking opioid receptors.
Under the new law, naloxone can be prescribed directly to an “entity” such as a police department, fire department, homeless shelter or social service agency. It can also be distributed by non-medical providers such as a health educator, counselor, or syringe exchange volunteer under a prescriber’s standing order. The bill provides immunity from prosecution under the state’s Uniform Disciplinary Act for those making a “good faith effort” in helping those suffering from an opioid-related overdose.
At least three law enforcement agencies in Washington state have already trained officers in its use and included naloxone in emergency response kits so that they can administer the drug when they encounter cases of overdose when responded to calls.
In testimony before the House Health Care and Wellness Committee, Rep. Brady Walkinshaw, D-43rd District, stated that the legislation he sponsored was requested by a constituent whose sister had died from a heroin overdose. He noted that there has been a six-fold increase of opioid use by people in their 20s since 2000 in Washington, and that some of the highest rates of opioid use in the state have been recorded in the Skagit and Whatcom county areas.
“Increasing access (to naloxone) would save lives,” Walkinshaw said.
Others testified that providing more wide-spread access reduces the amount of time critical treatment can begin as law enforcement often beats medics to an overdose scene by several minutes.
Snohomish County recently declared heroin deaths are now at “epidemic levels,” and recent news reports indicate heroin deaths in Seattle have spiked by 58 percent.
A policy paper by Lt. Governor Brad Owen on increased heroin abuse was published by the National Lt. Governors Association in May. More information on the new law and on Naloxone in general can be found on the StopOverdose.org web site. (Graphic by Maya Doe-Simkins/Harm Reduction Coalition).
Is meth use on the comeback?
More babies than ever are being treated at the Pediatric Interim Care Center in Kent for meth addictions. Is that, coupled an increase in meth smuggling busts by the regional Drug Enforcement Agency, a sign that meth is making a return in Washington? A report by KING-5 TV makes that suggestion and tells us where all of the meth is now coming from.
New heroin response strategy will span 15 states
The White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) on Monday announced it's spending $2.5 million to launch the Heroin Response Strategy, a partnership between federal, government and local forces that the White House and other lawmakers call unprecedented. The funds will be used for five regional High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) covering 15 states. Read more from CBS News.
The Spike: What Lies Behind the New Heroin Epidemic?
An Aug. 11 article in the Seattle Weekly by Casey Jaywork takes a close and personal glimpse of the rise in heroin use - and what's driving it.
Tacoma News Tribune/AP
Washington officials warn about
marijuana exposure to kids
Calls to the Washington Poison Control Center for children eating marijuana edibles increased 33 percent between the first half of 2014 and 2015, center officials report. While the increase may be attributable to greater awareness of the center's hotline, public health officials remain troubled by the increase and urge that all marijuana edibles be kept locked and out of the reach of kids. Read the full article in the July 15 Tacoma News Tribune.
Office of National Drug Control Policy