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State lawmakers propose greater access to anti-overdose med

Both houses of the State Legislature have pending bills whose sponsors hope will help stem the tide of drug-related deaths by allowing greater access to an effective anti-overdose medication.

The bills would amend the state's public health law and allow Naloxone to be available to trained members of law enforcement agencies and schools.

"It is simple," said state Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), a sponsor of the bill, in a news release. "Ensuring drug abusers, their family and friends can access Naloxone will save lives."

He continued, "It has been estimated that heroin addiction on Long Island has increased nearly fourfold since 2011. This alarming statistic demonstrates the need for a comprehensive approach to addressing the state's drug crisis."

An exact version of Hannon's bill is pending in the state Assembly, sponsored by Joseph R. Lentol (D-Brooklyn).

The bill cites figures from the federal Centers for Disease Control, which report that "every 19 minutes, one person dies from an accidental overdose or suicide as a result of prescription drug abuse. . . . However, if naloxone (Noreen) is timely administered, it can revive the most catatonic drug user and give them a second chance at life."

Naloxone is available in Nassau and Suffolk through EMT programs, but the bill sponsors say it should be more widely available.

Jeffrey Reynolds, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, supports the bill to expand access.

"Drug overdoses are completely preventable and too many families on Long Island and statewide are losing a race against time as they struggle to find help for their addicted loved ones," Reynolds said in Hannon's release. "Too many young people never make it through the doors of a treatment center."