Utah Legislators Pass Important Opiate Overdose Prevention Bills – USARA

Utah Legislators Pass Important Opiate Overdose Prevention Bills

During the 2014 Utah Legislative session, USARA participated in advocacy efforts for two important bills that have an impact on the growing number of Opiate overdose deaths in Utah in an effort to save lives. House Bill 11 and Bill 119, sponsored by Representative Carol Spackman Moss, were PASSED by the Utah House of Representatives and Senate. They are set to be signed by Governor Gary R. Herbert and become a Utah state law.
USARA would like to express our appreciation to all of our Utah State Legislators  for passing these important bills: 

H.B. 11 – Overdose Reporting Amendments PASSED!

Sponsors  – Representative Carol Spackman Moss, Senator Curtis Bramble

This bill: provides that a person who reports a person’s overdose from a controlled substance or other substance may claim an affirmative defense to specified charges of violating the Utah Controlled Substances Act if the person remains with the person who is subject to the overdose and cooperates with responding medical providers and law enforcement officers; and provides that remaining with a person subject to an overdose and cooperating with medical providers and law enforcement is a mitigating factor when determining the penalty for a related violation of the Utah Controlled Substances Act. Fiscal Note: Enactment of this bill likely will not materially impact the state budget; likely will not result in direct, measurable costs for local governments; and likely will not result in direct, measurable expenditures by Utah residents or businesses.

H.B. 119 – Opiate Overdose Emergency Treatment PASSED!

Sponsors – Representative Carol Spackman Moss,  Senator Brian Shiozawa

This bill: defines terms; permits the dispensing and administration of an opiate antagonist to a person who is reasonably believed to be experiencing an opiate-related drug overdose event; establishes immunity for the good faith administration of an opiate antagonist; clarifies that the administration of an opiate antagonist is voluntary and that the act does not establish a duty to administer an opiate antagonist; clarifies that it is not unlawful or unprofessional conduct for certain health professionals to prescribe an opiate antagonist to: a person at increased risk of experiencing an opiate-related drug overdose event; or a family member, friend, or other person in a position to assist a person who is at increased risk of experiencing an opiate-related drug overdose; and requires a person who prescribes or dispenses an opiate antagonist to advise a person to seek a medical evaluation after experiencing a drug overdose and taking an opiate antagonist.

Here are some facts about Utah’s drug overdoses:

  1. 502 Utahn’s died last year of drug overdoses.
  2. Nationally, drug overdose deaths have become the leading cause of accidental death, causing more deaths than traffic fatalities or gun homicides and suicides.
  3. Utah was fourth highest in the nation for drug overdose deaths in 2008.
  4. Utah remains among the top ten states for opiate overdose deaths.
  5. 323 of the Utah overdose deaths were from prescription drugs
  6. 261(52%) of them from prescription opioids.
  7. 75% are not suicides but accidental deaths.
  8. 93% died at a residence (in the majority of homes someone was present who might have been able to intervene by intervention of Naloxone.

For more information see “SAMSA Overdose Prevention Tool kit” at http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//SMA13-4742/Overdose_Toolkit_2014_Jan.pdf

See Opioid Overdose “pocket card” that provides information about symptoms of and overdose and resuscitation steps.

USARA encourages everyone who is taking an opiate drug (prescribed or not), friends and family to educate themselves about the signs of an overdose and how to use Naloxone to save a life.  This could be an intervention for a person who struggles with opiate addiction, who can follow up with treatment.  It may be the emergency intervention for a recovering person who is at risk for relapse. Reducing the number of Utah overdose deaths from drug use is something we should all be engaged in.
 The Centers for Disease Control have documented over 10,000 rescues up to 2010 from overdose by use of this non-toxic, non-addicting, non-controlled substance prescription medication.