Bill relating to opioid overdose drugs is the first bill to pass through the Senate in Alaska’s 32nd legislative session

The first bill to pass through the Alaska Senate to the House is SB 70, sponsored by Sen. David Wilson. This bill will allow the chief medical officer of the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) to continue issuing a statewide standing order for the prescription of naloxone.

 

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Naloxone is a life-saving drug that rapidly reverses opioid overdoses. Anne Zink, the chief medical officer of DHSS, currently has the authority to issue a standing order for the prescription of this drug. Currently, this authority is set to expire on June 30, 2021.

By removing this expiration date, providers can continue to directly distribute and access this drug for those who need it most. 

Wilson said in the initial committee hearing that this bill will save both lives and money.

“This legislation benefits Alaska by saving lives. This translates to a direct cost savings to emergency services. It gives people who may overdose a greater chance of living and gives them an opportunity to get into treatment.”

Overdoses were one of the top ten leading causes of death in Alaska in2017, having killed more people than diabetes, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis and homicide. In 2019, 133 people lost their lives to an overdose, according to DHSS.

This standing order allows for the implementation of take-home naloxone (THN) programs. Between 2019 and 2020, Alaska’s THN program Project Hope distributed approximately 9000 kits. 

The bill passed through the Senate by a vote of 18-0, and is now on it’s way to the House for consideration.