Lawmakers push to make opiate overdose reversal drug more available

Posted at 11:32 PM, Apr 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-15 23:32:33-04

WEST MICHIGAN - Officials across West Michigan are voicing their concern about  the alarming increase of opiate overdoses recently. Now, they're pushing to make a drug designed to save lives more accessible.

Law enforcement officers across the area are already putting 'Narcan' to work. On Friday, we learned of two rescues: one in Battle Creek and another in Dowagiac where the overdose-reversing kits were used to save a life.

But one state lawmaker isn't stopping there; solidifying plans for a series of bills that will make Narcan easier to access while fighting the opiate epidemic all together.

"Drugs do not distinguish upon rich or poor," said State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker (R). "They are just awful for our community so it's important that we help people as much as we can."

Senator Schuitmaker helped put Narcan into the hands of police and first responders, then introduced legislation in February aimed at making Narcan available in pharmacies without a prescription.

Those efforts haven't stopped. In fact, they're adding more with the help of an appointed opiate task force.

"I am working on other bills dealing with the prescription overdose epidemic that we face to prohibit doctor shopping" said Schuitmaker. "It's our hope that all doctors that prescribe opiates would have to go register therefore we can see who is prescribing the pills to prevent the epidemic. It we see patterns, we can crack down on abuses that are happening both at the doctor level and also at the pharmacy level."

Hoping to build on what's already in place for law enforcement.

"I have a friend over in Oakland County who said that last year 15 lives were saved as a result of their sheriff's department deputies carrying Narcan in their cars" said Schuitmaker. "It is going to be very gratifying to see the numbers statewide of how many lives have been saved as a result of this. It has been very gratifying as the bill sponsor to see how many lives have been saved as a result of that law being signed by Governor Snyder. It's sad that you have to be in this situation to begin with."

Schuitmaker hopes to introduce the bill package in the Fall.