By John Celock
Kansas lawmakers have advanced legislation that would allow for first responders to carry medication that can reverse an opioid overdose.
The state House of Representatives gave approval to legislation that would have first responders and police officers carry Narcan on them to provide to those they might encounter who are suffering from an opioid overdose. The move comes as states around the country are seeking ways to address the opioid and heroin epidemic.
“It is needed now more than ever. There happen to be more opioid overdoses than ever. There are some powerful opioid medications out there,” Rep. Greg Lakin (R-Wichita) said. “There are powerful heroin and synthetic drugs on the street.”
Lakin said the legislation would also address for pharmacies in the state to carry the opioid antidote in order to address potential overdoes. Lakin said that while much of the attention is paid towards those who suffer opioid overdoses from heroin or synthetic drugs, the increased availability of the antidote would address those who have accidental overdoses due to medications that contain opioids.
Narcan serves as an antidote to the effects of opioids, including reversing multiple effects including slowed breathing. Governors and lawmakers in multiple states have made increased access to the antidote a part of their opioid strategies. Other states have also addressed increased enforcement and drug education programs.
Lakin said that since the House Health and Human Services Committee started working on the legislation the crisis has continued.
“We have had several overdose deaths on opioids since this bill first started to be drafted,” he said.
Rep. John Wilson (D-Lawrence), the top Democrat on the Health and Human Services Committee, said the program has been adopted in other states and can help Kansas.
“We all know that the opioid epidemic is sweeping the country,” Wilson said. “Forty-seven other states have passed a bill like this. This is a life saving bill.”