Senate approves Schuitmaker bills improving access to life-saving medication

For Immediate Release
June 5, 2014

Contact: Derek Sova

LANSING, Mich—The Michigan Senate unanimously approved a package of bills Wednesday sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker that will make it easier for friends and families of recovering drug users to obtain and administer a life-saving medication during a heroin overdose. 

“Heroin use is a growing problem nationwide and overdoses are claiming the lives of too many of our loved ones,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “I’ve personally spoken with grieving parents who have lost a child to an overdose. Their tragic stories inspired me to make this simple change that will save other parents from enduring the same pain.”

Senate Bills 857 – 860 would enable the friends and families of recovering drug users to obtain a prescription for naloxone, an opioid antagonist that can counteract the effects of a heroin overdose if administered in time. Currently, only actual users are able to obtain a prescription. 

“Drug addicts trying to overcome a heroin addiction who accidentally overdose rarely obtain and administer the life-saving medicine themselves,” Schuitmaker added. “Family, friends and emergency medical technicians are usually the first ones present in an overdose situation and they have the best chance of intervening.”

The bills also grant immunity from criminal and civil liability to anyone administering the drug in good faith.

Fatal heroin overdoses increased 45 percent from 2006 to 2010, with 3,038 such deaths reported that year, and the numbers are believed to still be on the rise, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. According to recent news reports, emergency use of opioid antagonists resulted in more than 10,000 overdose reversals since 2001.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have amended laws to allow increased access to blocking agents that can decrease the effects of an overdose. Naloxone is a harmless medication that has no purpose or effects other than counteracting an opioid overdose. 

The bills passed the Senate and have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.