Gov. Little signs bill expanding access to lifesaving drug for opioid overdose victims

Boise – Gov. Brad Little signed House Bill 12 into law today during a bill signing ceremony to highlight the benefits of a medication called naloxone in saving the lives of people experiencing opioid overdose. He also reminded Idahoans of his forthcoming executive order to address opioid addiction in Idaho.

“My administration is fully committed to fighting the scourge of opioid abuse head on,” Gov. Little said. “We look forward to coordinating with all public and private entities to reverse this epidemic.”

There were 116 known opioid overdose deaths in Idaho in 2017, up from 44 just more than a decade ago – a 163 percent increase.

If an individual has an opioid overdose, a quick administration of naloxone can reverse the overdose and bring the patient back to life. A study found when access to naloxone is enhanced there is a 9 to 11 percent decrease in opioid-related deaths.

House Bill 12 gives Idaho one of the broadest naloxone access laws in the United States, and it avoids the red tape some other states have placed around the drug. In 2015, Idaho passed a law to ease access to naloxone, and House Bill 12 expands upon this successful foundation.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Fred Wood (R-Burley), as well as Sen. David Nelson (D-Moscow) and Office of Drug Policy Administrator Melinda Smyser joined Gov. Little during the signing ceremony.

“We have an opioid problem here in Idaho. While we figure out a way to combat this growing addiction, we need to let our neighbors know that there is help at their fingertips if they have a loved one in need. This could be the first step to helping someone into recovery,” Rep. Wood said.

“I was excited to sponsor this piece of legislation on the Senate floor. This bill saves the lives of moms, dads, brothers and sisters. We give Idahoans the chance to seek treatment and focus on recovery,” Sen. Nelson said.

Gov. Little also reminded Idahoans of his forthcoming executive order on substance abuse. He mentioned his plans for the executive order in his State of the State and Budget Address in January. The executive order will formalize an existing opioid plan, direct future resources to and broaden efforts to combat opioid addition and create non-offender programs for substance abuse.

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