Testimony in Favor of Co-Prescribing Naloxone Saves Lives Act of 2017
Wednesday Mar 8th, 2017
Following is testimony given by Mark O’Brien, Director of Opioid Overdose Prevention and Treatment. The statement was presented to the Health and Government Operations Committee on behalf of Dr. Wen on March 1, 2017.
Chair Middleton, Vice-Chair Astle, and Members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to testify in support of SB 693, the Co-Prescribing Naloxone Saves Lives Act. My name is Mark O’Brien, and I am the Director of Opioid Overdose Prevention and Treatment for the Baltimore City Health Department. I am here today on behalf of Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Wen.
Maryland is confronting an epidemic of opioid overdose deaths with over 2000 deaths in 2016. Baltimore City has been hit hard with over 650 deaths.
These are our family, friends, and neighbors who are dying. And over 20% of overdose deaths statewide were related to prescription opioids.
In Baltimore, we are working to get the overdose-reversal medication naloxone into as many hands as possible. We focus our outreach on people who use illicit opioids and parts of the city that are especially hard hit by opioid misuse.
But, we also know there is a large pool of patients who are receiving opioid prescriptions from their physicians and at-risk of overdose who are not coming to our Needle Exchange Program or living in the highest-risk parts of the city.
That is why we have encouraged all physicians in our city to co-prescribe naloxone for every patient receiving an opioid prescription.
We know that patients can intentionally misuse these medications and place themselves at risk. We also know that patients may mistakenly take an extra dose or a larger dose of their medication and inadvertently place themselves at risk of an overdose.
Every patient who is at risk for an overdose should have naloxone. Naloxone is safe. It has no effect on a person who has not taken opioids. It’s also incredibly easy to use.
We must do everything we can to stop overdose deaths, and SB 693 is a common-sense approach to keeping people safe. Therefore, I respectfully request a favorable report on SB 693.