General Assembly passes Naloxone co-prescription bill aimed at slowing opioid epidemic

General Assembly passes Naloxone co-prescription bill aimed at slowing opioid epidemic

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Thursday, the General Assembly passed a bill designed to spread the availability and knowledge of a lifesaving and overdose-reversing medication.

Senate Bill 571, sponsored by Sen. Katrina Shealy (R-Lexington County), passed unanimously in the House after securing unanimous support in the Senate as well.

It requires doctors to offer a co-prescription of Naloxone under the following circumstances:

(a) the prescription dosage for the patient is fifty or more morphine milligram equivalents of an opioid medication per day;

(b) opioid medication is prescribed concurrently with a prescription for benzodiazepine;

(c) the patient presents with an increased risk for overdose, including a patient with a history of overdose, a patient with a history of substance use disorder, or a patient at risk for returning to a high dose of opioid medication to which the patient is no longer tolerant.

It also requires doctors to educate patients and a designated person on Naloxone and how to use it.

One of the bill’s most vocal supporters is Rep. Russell Fry (R-Horry County). He sponsored a similar bill in the House.

“When you prescribe an opioid and you also co-prescribe Naloxone, people’s eyebrows might raise, like they don’t have a problem. But a lot of our overdose deaths are those who don’t have an addiction problem. Who aren’t suffering in any which way, don’t have a history of drug abuse,” he said.

Data from the SC Department of Alcohol and Other Abuse Services shows deaths from opioid overdoses have steadily climbed in recent years, with 876 statewide in 2019.

Midlands Recovery Center Executive Director Bobby Brazell welcomed the bill’s success and said it will help take on stigma.

“Abstinence, yes, of course, that would be the gold standard, it’s what we work toward but that’s not always reality,  and yes a lot of people do not even know what it is and what it can be used for. There’s a lot of stigma behind it, people believe that’s encouraging use or helping them to continue use, that’s just not true. It’s helping them continue living. You cannot recover if you’re not alive,” he said.

Naloxone is available for free at the Midlands Recovery Center and can also be found at CVS. It does not require a prescription.

Copyright 2021 WIS. All rights reserved.