BOISE — Governor Brad Little signed House Bill 12 into law on Thursday. It’s the legislation that calls for more clarity on who can dispense and administer opioid antagonist Naloxone.
Federal law makes Naloxone a prescription-only medication. But now, Idaho is easing access to the lifesaving drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It's a precursor to the executive order that Governor Little plans to issue in the coming weeks.
Governor Little said, deaths from opioid overdose are up 163 percent, just in the last decade.
"One hundred and eighty-four last year in Ada County died of a drug overdose. Fifty-nine in Canyon County; sixty-four in Kootenai County; Twin Falls, forty-seven; Payette, seventeen," said Melinda Smyser, Director of the Office of Drug Policy.
And while naloxone has been used for overdoses since the 70's, not everyone is aware of its capabilities, and access to the general public hasn't been quite as broad.
"When access to Naloxone is enhanced, there is a 9-to-11 percent decrease in opioid related deaths," said Governor Little.
House Bill 12 expands upon the 2015 law which eased access to the drug, now this bill removes any confusion as to who can prescribe or administer the medication.
"Generally there's this concern of, if we expand prescriptive authority for one thing it snowballs and then we have, you know, folks that we don't think are trained well enough. And the key piece about this is that there would have to be training involved before anybody was writing a prescription or dispensing Naloxone," said Jennifer Adams, the Associate Dean of the College of Pharmacy at ISU.
Governor Little stated Idaho is seen as the leader in Naloxone access, this bill just puts us further ahead, providing Naloxone access to anyone in a position to help someone at risk.
"We've gone from dealing with somebody who's, we're looking at doing CPR, because their respirations are so low that it's not sustainable for life, we've given them the drug, and they've sat right up," said Rep. Jake Ellis (D) Boise.
Governor little said his upcoming executive order will formalize an existing opioid plan, direct future resources, and broaden efforts to combat opioid addiction.
This new law, an amendment to the current Naloxone law, will go into effect on July 1st.