Lawmakers Consider Several Bills to Combat Heroin Overdoses in Iowa

Feb 23, 2016

The number of heroin overdose deaths in Iowa has increased six-fold from 2007 to 2013.

Kim Brown, of Davenport, lost her son Andy Lamp to a heroin overdose in 2011, and she now advocates for greater access to Naloxone, a common overdose reversal drug, as well as a “Good Samaritan” law, which is intended to protect those who report an overdose from arrest or prosecution. She believes that passing these laws in Iowa could prevent future deaths from heroin overdose.

“EMS and law enforcement should have access to Naloxone and use it; they are our first responders,” Brown says.

“However... I feel that very few are going to call law enforcement for help when someone is overdosing. They’re going to be afraid of arrest, prosecution, and they don’t want to be in trouble. So when you’re talking about saving lives, you’ve got that small window there, and how much more common sense does it make to equip laypeople with Naloxone so that they can perform a rescue?”

On this legislative day edition of River to River, host Joyce Russell hosts a discussion on what did and didn’t make it through funnel week, as well as several statehouse proposals meant to decrease heroin overdose deaths. She talks with Brown as well as Iowa lawmakers, Senator Kevin Kinney and Representative Jarad Klein.

Iowa lawmakers on both sides of the aisle see the benefit to increased access to Naloxone, especially for law enforcement officers, however there is some hesitation to provide access to the general public, for fear the drug will be used as a safety measure by drug users.

Republican Representative Jarad Klein
Credit John Pemble

  “People using it as a safety mechanism, that they’re going to push the limit, they’re going to try to get a little bit more high because they have this safety mechanism sitting in their back pocket,” says Klein, as well as “people not knowing that they need to get people to the hospital. This isn’t going to be a fix-all, this is really more of a delaying sort of issue until you get them medical help.”

Wayne Jerman, Chief of Police for the Cedar Rapids Police Department, joins the discussion as well.