Bipartisan Bill Introduced To Co-Prescribe Naloxone And Painkillers

By Victoria Kim 11/13/15

Senators from Virginia and West Virginia want doctors to co-prescribe naloxone alongside opioid drugs.

Naloxone Vials
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Two U.S. senators from Virginia and West Virginia have introduced a bill to expand access to the overdose antidote naloxone. The Co-prescribing Saves Lives Act, introduced by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), is intended to encourage physicians to co-prescribe naloxone alongside opioid medication, and to make naloxone more widely available in federal health settings.

The bipartisan legislation would authorize a program to give funding to state health departments to establish co-prescribing guidelines, purchase naloxone, and fund training for health professionals and patients. The bill would also require the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Defense, and Department of Veterans Affairs to do the same for VA hospitals, DOD hospitals, and other federal health settings.

Opioid abuse has hit Virginia and West Virginia especially hard. West Virginia has one of the highest incidence of drug overdose-related deaths, alongside Kentucky and Nevada.

“Families and communities across West Virginia have been affected by the drug abuse epidemic, with our state sadly leading the nation in drug-related overdose deaths,” said Capito.

More than 800 Virginians died from drug overdose in 2012, according to the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The state, in particular, has made a clear effort to address opioid abuse. A series of bills that put naloxone in the hands of Virginia law enforcement agencies went into effect in July, and Attorney General Mark Herring pledged last year to tackle the issue.

With the Co-prescribing Saves Lives Act, Capito and Kaine hope to further expand access to naloxone by making it available to doctors and patients.

“A particularly heartbreaking aspect of this crisis is that many of the deaths from opioid and heroin overdoses could have been prevented,” said Kaine in a press release. “My bill would increase access to medication that can save someone’s life during an overdose and establish clear prescribing guidelines that will help get vital information about opioids to doctors and patients.”

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