Bipartisan bill would protect those who are trained to administer opioid overdose reversal drugs
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of her ongoing efforts to address New Hampshire’s heroin epidemic, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) announced today that she is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) that would protect law enforcement, first responders, and individuals who administer life-saving opioid overdose reversal drugs to those who have overdosed on heroin or prescription pain relievers. The legislation Ayotte is backing – the Opioid Overdose Reduction Act (S. 2092) – would provide immunity from civil suits for those who are properly trained and administer an opioid overdose prevention drug to someone who has overdosed.
“New Hampshire’s law enforcement community has told me that liability concerns may make some hesitant to administer a life-saving drug to an individual who has overdosed on heroin or prescription drugs. This bipartisan legislation will provide liability protections for law enforcement, first responders, and other properly trained individuals who administer naloxone in an emergency overdose situation,” said Senator Ayotte. “The alarming rise in heroin deaths in New Hampshire requires swift action, and this common sense legislation will help save lives.”
In Massachusetts, New Hampshire and other states with increasing rates of opioid overdose-related deaths, some programs have sought to equip law enforcement and first responders with naloxone (Narcan), an overdose reversal drug that can prevent death from a heroin or opioid prescription drug overdose. But some have cited concerns with potential civil liability as a factor that may prevent medical and non-medical personnel from administering the drug.
The Markey-Ayotte Opioid Overdose Reduction Act would:
• Exempt health care professionals from civil liability from any harm caused by the emergency administration of an opioid overdose drug that they prescribe or provide to any person provided that person receives education in the proper administration of the opioid overdose drug;
• Exempt individuals who work or volunteer at an opioid overdose program from civil liability from any harm caused by the emergency administration of an opioid overdose drug that they provide as a part of an opioid overdose program;
• Exempt individuals who administer an opioid overdose drug to a person who is or reasonably appears to have suffered an overdose from civil liability provided they obtained the overdose drug from an overdose program or a health care professional and received education in the proper administration of the overdose drug.
Ayotte, New Hampshire's former attorney general, is leading efforts to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction. In Manchester last week, she convened a group of law enforcement, state officials, and health and treatment providers to discuss strategies to combat New Hampshire’s opioid crisis.