Governor Pat McCrory joined law enforcement officers, first responders, legislators and health care officials today at the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office to sign legislation making naloxone, a life-saving opioid reversal drug that has already saved 3,300 North Carolinians, more accessible.
“Addressing mental health, substance use, underage drinking and drug overdose have been primary focuses of our team since day one,” said Governor McCrory, who prioritized these issues in his first State of the State address. “Signing this legislation builds on our success and will save lives throughout NC. I want to thank our legislators for unanimously passing this bipartisan initiative.”
The legislation represents an early accomplishment of the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use, which delivered a report to Governor McCrory in May recommending expanding capacity for opioid treatment services, medications and overdose prevention, such as naloxone.
Beginning at 2 p.m. today, pharmacies in North Carolina will begin making naloxone available without a prescription. North Carolina is the third state in the country to issue a standing prescription order statewide for naloxone.
“We listened and are aware of how many families will find hope and help from the wide availability of naloxone,” said DHHS Secretary Rick Brajer, who co-chaired the Governor’s Task Force. “This law is the catalyst we need to help protect people across our state.”
In North Carolina, more than 1,000 people die each year from prescription opioid and heroin overdoses. One out of four autopsies performed by state medical examiners are on those whose deaths are from drug overdose.
North Carolina’s Good Samaritan Law, signed by Governor McCrory in 2013, cleared the way for law enforcement to carry and use naloxone. It is now carried by officers at more than 70 law enforcement agencies across the state, including the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department which has administered more than 600 doses since 2014. In 2015, North Carolina reached a major milestone when the number of opioid overdose reversals from the use of naloxone exceeded the number of overdose deaths.
Authorizing the standing order for naloxone is the latest in a series of commitments by Governor McCrory to support those living with substance use disorders. In addition to the Mental Health and Substance Use Task Force co-chaired by Health and Human Services Secretary Rick Brajer and N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin, the governor also established the Crisis Solutions Initiative and the Governor’s Substance Abuse and Underage Drinking Prevention and Treatment Task Force which resulted in the statewide Talk It Out initiative.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, dial 911. For more information about available services and treatment options, go to crisissolutionsnc.org.
As naloxone treatment has become more widespread, pharmaceutical companies are raising prices. An article covering this issue may be read here.
The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition is also working to assist the state with overdose prevention and rescue. They are online at www.nchrc.org/programs-and-services.