911 Good Samaritan/Naloxone Access Law Passes NC General Assembly

04/03/2013

911 Good Samaritan/Naloxone Access Law Passes NC General Assembly

 

On Wednesday, April 3rd, the NC General Assembly passed Senate Bill 20 (SB20), Good Samaritan Law/Naloxone Access, legislation aimed at reducing drug overdose fatalities in North Carolina. The final vote in the Senate was 47-0. SB20 provides limited criminal immunity from prosecution charges for less than one gram of drugs or paraphernalia to people who call 911 to report an overdose. The immunity also applies to underage drinkers who seek help for alcohol poisoning. Additionally, SB20 removes civil liabilities for medical providers who prescribe naloxone, the antidote to opioid overdose, and for bystanders who administer it to someone experiencing an overdose. The bill also allows for a standing order distribution, meaning that medical practitioners can grant permission to nurses and overdose prevention groups to dispense naloxone without a doctor present. SB20 will now go to the Governor for his signature, and once signed, will become effective immediately.

SB20 was sponsored by Senators Austin Allran (R) and Stan Bingham (R), and co-sponsored by Senators Shirley Randleman (R) and Floyd McKissick (D).   “SB20 is an important step to combat the epidemic of drug overdoses in our state,” says Senator Allran, sponsor. “We have bipartisan support for this bill because everyone recognizes that it’s about saving lives and giving people a second chance to get into treatment.”

 

Rep. Tom Murry (R) introduced SB20 on the House floor on March 28th, where it passed 102-11. If someone has an injury and gets legitimate treatment for pain and then they have trouble getting off that [pain medication], it might cascade into an addiction that they just can’t treat,” he says. “What this legislation [SB20] does is help folks that might be at risk for an opioid overdose to make sure that they have appropriate treatment.”

 

In the past decade overdose deaths have tripled, claiming over 1100 North Carolinians last year, while nationwide overdose deaths have surpassed auto fatalities as the leading cause of accidental death. If left unmitigated, drug overdose deaths could rise to become North Carolina’s primary cause of accidental death by 2017. Most overdoses are caused by prescription medications, in particular opioid pain relievers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and morphine.

 

“This is a great day for injury prevention in North Carolina,” says Robert Childs, Executive Director of the NC Harm Reduction Coalition, a public health nonprofit that advocated for the bill. “With overdose fatalities becoming an increasing problem in our state, SB20 is a great step towards curbing preventable deaths and saving the lives of our loved ones.”