WV Senate passes bill to help with overdoses - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV Senate passes bill to help with overdose treatment

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Legislators in the West Virginia Senate unanimously passed a bill Feb. 7 that would help patients suffering from opioid addictions.

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that, if first responders had access to, could save the lives of patients suffering from an overdose.

Senate Bill 336 would permit emergency responders, deputy sheriffs and firefighters to carry the opioid antagonists in the event of emergency situations.

Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, said he was in support of the bill because West Virginia leads the country in opioid overdoses per capita.

"The sooner you can get this antagonist to the person that needs it, the better," Stollings, who is a physician, said. "It works fairly quickly, in the emergency room setting it's amazing but in the field you can introduce it in the mouth and it will have a similar effect."

Stollings said there was some question the drug could be used to as a great tool to cut down on the state's unintentional opioid overdoses.

Sen. Evan Jenkins, R-Cabell, said it was a measure the body has tried to pass for the last year or two.

"This epidemic we have relating to prescription drug abuse has probably touched us all," he said. "Tragically, here several months ago, my wife lost her nephew.

Jenkins said he believes having the drug at hand would not only help save lives at the time, but also help those suffering from addiction to get better.

"It is certainly something we have attempted in years passed, I'm sorry we didn't do it before, I'm glad we are doing it now," Jenkins said. "This is a true lifesaver.

"While we're taking this up today I'm certainly going to be thinking of Adam when passing this bill."

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 397, which would expand what is considered financial exploitation of the elderly.

Seven bills were introduced Friday, three advanced to third reading and three were read for the first time.

The Senate also recognized National Wear Red Day to bring attention to cardiovascular disease in women.