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States Get Road Map for Easing Access to Opioid Reversal Drug (1)

Nov. 17, 2021, 3:19 PMUpdated: Nov. 17, 2021, 7:21 PM

The White House on Wednesday provided states with a legislative road map for removing barriers to an opioid overdose reversal drug.

The model law, released by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, offers legal provisions that states could enact to ease access to the drug naloxone. The move comes amid the Biden administration’s increasing efforts to combat the nation’s addiction crisis.

“Naloxone is one of the most effective tools we have to save lives. But sadly, today, people with substance use disorders are overdosing and dying across the country because naloxone access depends a great deal on where you live,” ONDCP Director Rahul Gupta said in a statement.

“This model law provides states with a framework to make naloxone accessible to those who need it,” he said.

From April 2020 to April 2021, over 100,000 people died from an overdose, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This translates to an American perishing from an overdose every five minutes,” Gupta said in a Wednesday press call. Increasing naloxone access could “have a significant impact” on lowering climbing overdose numbers, he said.

The model law would promote educational initiatives on the benefits of drugs like naloxone, create a pilot program for bystanders to access the drug, and grant legal protections for people who administer it. The law also aims to provide uniformity in access.

All 50 states allow certain individuals to obtain opioid antagonists like naloxone without a prescription, but laws vary between jurisdictions, according to the Legislative Analysis and Public Policy Association, which worked with the ONDCP on the model law.

“We need all hands on deck. And that’s the approach we’re taking with this,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in the press call. The HHS in October unveiled a sweeping strategy for combating rising opioid addiction numbers.

(Updated with additional reporting throughout.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Lopez in Washington at ilopez@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexis Kramer at akramer@bloomberglaw.com