Family Members Can Now Purchase Heroin Antidote

Jul 6, 2016

A new state law is in effect expanding access to a drug that can stop the effects of a heroin or opioid overdose and prevent it from being fatal.  

In the waning hours of the legislative session, lawmakers agreed to let family members purchase the antidote ahead of an overdose emergency.   

Earlier in the session lawmakers approved a bill allowing family members or friends to possess and administer naloxone but under that bill they couldn’t buy it.  

Kevin Gabbert at the Iowa Department of Public Health says that was a big gap.

“Where it fell short was it didn't identify how those persons in a position to assist could access naloxone,” Gabbert said.

In a last minute budget bill before adjournment lawmakers agreed to let any person close to a drug addict get a prescription for the antidote and keep it on hand.

“A family or friend could go to a physician and obtain a prescription because they were concerned or knew an individual who had a heroin or opioid dependency,” Gabbert said.

Parents of addicts who died of drug overdoses pushed for the change.  

The new law also extends access for more emergency medical personnel, and lets doctors write a standing order for the drug.   That will allow the sale of the drug without a return visit to a doctor.

The legislation includes legal protections for those who administer the drug in an emergency.

Backers say naloxone can save hundreds of lives.   Nearly all states have expanded access to the drug in recent years.