Gov. Malloy signed a bill aimed at expanding access to a heroin reversal drug used to combat the effects of an overdose.
The measure, which was approved by the General Assembly this session, grants immunity to anyone who administers the antidote naloxne, also known by the brand name “Narcan”, to someone who has overdosed on heroin. The legislation takes effect Oct. 1 and supporters say it will allow members of law enforcement to carry the drug.
Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called on states throughout the country to expand access to Narcan and to allow members of law enforcement to carry it, responding to what he described as a nationwide heroin epidemic that he said was a “public health crisis.” A spike in heroin overdose deaths in this state – and throughout New England – led local lawmakers to act.
Currently, paramedics in Conn. carry Narcan, but police do not. Hartford Police Deputy Chief Brian Foley earlier this year spoke out in support of the legislation, which he said would shield members of his department from prosecution and protect them from civil suits if, for example, they administer the drug but are unable to save the person who overdosed. Fear of costly lawsuits, he said, prevents police departments from having their officers carry the antidote.
Narcan is available both in the form of an injection, like an EpiPen used to treat allergies, and as a nasal spray. It puts the body into acute withdrawal. The judicial committee earlier this year heard unanimous testimony in support of the measure.