LANSING, Mich. — Representative Charles Brunner (D–Bay City), Representative Bill LaVoy (D–Monroe), Senator Dale Zorn (R–Ida) and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D–Flint) today introduced legislation that would allow Michigan school districts to stock naloxone, an antidote used to treat an opioid overdose in an emergency situation.
According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury deaths in the U.S. and incidents have nearly quadrupled in Michigan since 1999.
“One unfortunate constant in our state seems to be prescription drug and opioid abuse, and I am glad that we are finally facing this problem head-on,” said Rep. Brunner, who has hosted numerous events across Bay County about the dangers of drug abuse. “While our main focus must be on prevention and treatment, having Naloxone on hand in a crisis is crucially important. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to recognize the crisis facing our state and come together to pass this legislation and future legislative proposals to make prescription drug and opioid abuse a thing of the past.”
Specifically, the bills introduced would:
At least six other states — Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, Delaware, Kentucky and Massachusetts — have already enacted laws similar to this legislation.
“The epidemic of prescription drug and opioid abuse has claimed many lives across Michigan — Monroe County has been particularly hard-hit,” Rep. LaVoy said. “As we finally give this crisis the attention it deserves, we have the ability to save the lives of not just the people at risk of an overdose, but those who are in the midst of one. Increasing access to Naloxone is the right thing to do.”
According to MDHHS data, four counties — Monroe, Genesee, Kent and Grand Traverse — have higher rates of overdoses than the state average.
“I’ve met with local school officials, community hospitals, and area doctors and understand that the risk of opioid overdoses or deaths in our schools cannot be taken lightly,” Sen. Zorn said. “Naloxone is proven to reverse the effects of opioid overdose, and I introduced Senate Bill 806 to provide schools the option to have this lifesaving remedy at the ready.”
In June 2015, Gov. Snyder created the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force, a multi-stakeholder group formed to create a comprehensive statewide action plan to address prescription drug and opioid abuse. One of the many recommendations from the Task Force was to expand access to naloxone.
“Bringing together experts and policymakers from all different backgrounds is critical to turning the tide on this epidemic,” said Sen. Ananich, who served on the Task Force. “A focus on prevention, treatment and enforcement will really make a difference in our communities.”
President Barack Obama’s most recent budget proposal included millions of dollars in federal funding to battle prescription drug abuse, including resources to help schools obtain naloxone. Additionally, some pharmaceutical companies have recently announced they will offer free naloxone nasal spray to schools that are interested, and will assist in educating and training the public on effective strategies to prevent drug overdoses and abuse.
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