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Assembly Grants Final Legislative OK
To Bipartisan Compromise To Help Save Lives

By on May 31, 2013

  (TRENTON, NJ) – A compromise measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Connie Wagner, Pamela Lampitt, Thomas Giblin, Upendra Chivukula, Angel Fuentes and Reed Gusciora to help save lives and prevent drug overdoses was granted final legislative approval 68-2-6 by the General Assembly on Monday, April 29th.

The compromise (S-2082) incorporates components of both the bill known as the “Opioid Antidote and Overdose Prevention Act” (A-3095), which was conditionally vetoed by Gov. Christie today and the “Good Samaritan Act” (A-578), which was conditionally vetoed by Christie last fall.

The new measure would provide immunity for witnesses and victims of drug overdoses in order to help get timely medical treatment; and also provide civil, criminal, and professional immunity for health care professionals involved in prescribing, dispensing, or administering naloxone or any similarly acting, FDA-approved drug for the treatment of an opioid overdose.

In incorporating the components of the Good Samaritan Act, the bill would protect a person from arrest, charge, prosecution, or conviction if, in good faith, they sought medical assistance for someone experiencing a drug overdose, and the evidence for the offense was obtained as a result of the person’s efforts to obtain the medical assistance. The same prosecutorial immunity would also apply for a victim of a drug overdose who sought medical assistance or was the subject of a good faith request for such assistance.

In incorporating, the Opioid Antidote and Overdose Prevention Act, the lawmakers noted that naloxone is an inexpensive and easily administered antidote for an overdose of opioids, such as morphine, heroin, OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin.  Specifically, naloxone is used to counteract life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system, allowing an overdose victim to breathe normally.

addiction a second chance at life.”

In addition to providing immunity for health care professionals who administer the antidote, the bill would also provide immunity for other individuals if the action was taken during an emergency, and the person believed in good faith that another person was experiencing an opioid overdose.

“Statistics show that states without an opioid overdose prevention program have far higher overdose death rates than others,” said Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic).  “And in the case of an overdose, fear and panic often cloud a person’s judgment.  This legislation would incorporate a responsible approach to make sure these life-saving drugs or timely medical assistance are given to those who need it most.”

According to a study released last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since 1996 naloxone has reversed 10,171 drug overdoses, saving thousands of lives.  The CDC also noted that 19 (76%) of the 25 states with 2008 drug overdose death rates higher than the median and nine (69.2%) of the 13 states in the highest quartile did not have a community-based opioid overdose prevention program that distributed naloxone.