KALISPELL – A life-saving medication that reverses potentially fatal overdoses of heroin and prescription drugs is now more accessible in Montana under a bill Governor Steve Bullock signed into law Tuesday.
Governor Bullock signed House Bill 333, also known as the “Help Save Lives from Overdose Act.”
Kalispell representative Frank Garner, who introduced the bill, sat alongside Bullock as about a dozen hospital administrators, nurses and doctors from Kalispell Regional Medical Center looked on.
The bill allows anti-overdose drugs like Narcon to be prescribed to organizations like police departments and schools as well as individuals in case of an overdose.
It also requires basic training for the use of the medication and gives legal and civil immunity to people who administer the drug.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths involving heroin have tripled in the U.S. since 2010 with more than 13,000 overdose deaths in 2015.
Governor Bullock stressed that it’s a public health crisis in Montana and not a law-enforcement issue and he said it’s affecting all corners of Montana.
“It came out of the experience of local folks saying, how do we address a real problem here? How do we actually make sure that we do all that we can so an overdose doesn’t occur, to ensure that we don’t have one more statistic here?” Bullock said.
“You know, since the time you were Attorney General and I was the Police Chief here the rates have triples, the overdose rates have tripled and it’s painful for me as a law enforcement and career public safety person to say we need this but we need this to save people’s live and in particular young people’s lives,” Garner said.
Montana joins at least 30 other states where the life-saving medications are available without a prescription.
MTN’s Nicole Miller