Florida Gov. Rick Scott Signs Emergency Treatment for Opioid Overdose Act

By Zachary Siegel 06/12/15

Florida joins the 28 states that have broadened access to naloxone, as health care providers breathe a sigh of relief.

Governor Rick Scott
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First responders, caregivers, and patients in Florida now have the authority to purchase and administer naloxone, a pure antidote to opioid overdose, thanks to Gov. Rick Scott (R) signing off on bill HB-751.
The Emergency Treatment for Opioid Overdose Act was ratified on June 10. The bill also authorizes healthcare providers and pharmacies to dispense naloxone to patients and caregivers, who can then administer the drug to anyone who they think, in good faith, is experiencing an opiate-related overdose.

Like other bills which extend the access of naloxone to third parties, the Emergency Treatment for Opioid Overdose Act also offers civil liability to caregivers and others who may end up administering the drug. This provides a safety net for the person attempting to save a life, in case something were to go wrong, he or she would not face legal ramifications.
A report from the CDC revealed overdose deaths involving heroin have nearly quadrupled from 2000-2013. Most of these overdoses happened after 2010, and it’s likely the numbers in 2015 are much higher.

Because of this recent surge in morbidity, the opiate problem in America is being tackled on a bipartisan level. With a Republican majority, Florida now joins the ranks of 28 other states, both conservative and liberal, that have ratified similar bills which make naloxone more accessible.

Dr. Holly Vasquez-Cortella of Harbor Village Detox, a treatment facility in Florida, is relieved such lifesaving legislation has passed. She told The Fix that she sees more and more people seeking treatment to kick their opiate habit. "Let's say on average I have approximately 10 psychiatric or psychological evaluations to administer daily, eight out of 10 are detoxing from opiates.”

“Any attempt at saving lives is worth passing,” Vasquez-Cortella said. “One of my favorite re-admit clients died in January from an overdose when he was visiting his family up in Jersey. They found him days later frozen outside. It was heartbreaking,"

As the opiate problem becomes increasingly dire, more states are likely to get onboard with making naloxone more accessible.

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Zachary Siegel is a freelance journalist specializing in science, health and drug policy. His reporting has also appeared in Slate, The Daily Beast, Salon, Huffington Post, among others. He writes often about addiction, sometimes drawing from his own experience. You can find out more about Zachary on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.