Baltimore City Health Commissioner Issues Statement in Response to Naloxone Dispensing Legislation

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Mona Rock: Office: (443) 984-2623, Cell: (410) 375-7763

BALTIMORE, MD (February 21, 2017) – Today, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen issued the following statement in support of HB 791, which would make it possible for a person to receive naloxone – the opioid overdose antidote medication – under a standing order without having to complete unnecessary paperwork:

“The opioid epidemic continues to kill hundreds of residents in Baltimore City and thousands of fellow Marylanders. In the midst of this public health emergency, we need every tool at our disposal to save lives. That is why we have made it a priority to expand access to naloxone, which has been used by everyday residents in Baltimore to save more than 800 lives since 2015.

“However, a significant barrier still remains; a person must complete training before receiving a prescription for naloxone under the standing order I issued in October 2015. While the training itself takes only a few minutes, the current law creates a burdensome paperwork requirements that takes away from our community educators’ ability to reach more residents with the life-saving medication. Passing this legislation would essentially make naloxone over-the-counter, and is a best practice already adopted by our neighboring states in Virginia and Pennsylvania, among others.

“We know that naloxone alone is not the only answer to stemming the opioid epidemic, and agree that much more needs to be done to increase access to on-demand treatment for the disease of addiction. But if we cannot save a life from overdose today, there will be no chance for a person to enter recovery and lead a healthier life tomorrow.

“I look forward to continuing to work with our leaders in Annapolis to ensure that every Marylander has the power to save a life.”