By Wayne Allen
Members of the Scioto County Health Coalition met on Friday to discuss a number of items, including House Bill (HB) 170 which was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. John Kasich. Some coalition members caled it an historic event.
“I don’t know if I can get it across in words, how historic this is and how much Scioto County and this (Scioto County Health) coalition has played apart in all of that. You folks (coalition members) are tremendously famous in my book for getting this done, to the point where it has become not only a state issue, a national issue and has become an international issue. Now we have the potential to get this lifesaving medication into the hands of more people,” said Dr. Randy Schlegel, with the Portsmouth City Health Department.
State Representative Dr. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) said House Bill 170 expands access to the drug Naloxone.
According to information about HB 170 released from Johnson’s office, “Naloxone, otherwise known by its commercial name Narcan, reverses the effects of a drug overdose, thereby saving a life. Sub. H.B. 170, sponsored by Representative Johnson, expands access by allowing family and friends of those addicted to opiates to acquire it from a prescriber.
The family member or friend would administer the Naloxone through the person’s nose. The bill also authorizes law enforcement agencies to acquire Naloxone and give it to their officers so they too can administer it intranasally and reverse the effects of opioid-related overdoses on people they come across in the course of their duties.
Naloxone has been used in emergency rooms and by paramedics for years. It is inert, cannot be abused, and is not addictive in any way. It works effectively by blocking the receptors in the brain that the drug occupies when a person has taken a prescription opioid or heroin. If a person who has not taken such a substance were to take Naloxone, it would have no effect.
With the Governor’s signing, the legislation takes effect immediately.”
“We’ve already had two parents come in (to the Portsmouth City Health Department), through the expanded legislation, who were issued prescriptions for Naloxone for their children,” Schlegel said.
Schlegel said even though the pill mills are shutdown there remains a tremendous amount of addicted people in Scioto County.
Dr. Johnson was in attendance at the coalition meeting and said, “make no mistake Columbus is not fixing anything we’re doing here, Washington is not fixing anything we’re doing here, we’re doing it. We need to let our families know about this huge problem we have with tobacco and drug abuse. Both are health issues that we just need to fix,” Johnson said. “It come down to something very simple, there is no person in our county, our community or region that’s not worth saving.”
Johnson said he has received some criticism about HB 170, while he has also had parents tell him if they had access to Narcan they know their child would be alive.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT