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Emergency Overdose Medication More Widely Available

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden
Gov. Terry Branstand signs SF 2218 into law, legalizing the administration of Naloxone by lay people. The bill's supports wear shirts that say, "Got Naloxone?"

Gov. Terry Branstad signed a billWednesday that allows families, friends and first responders in Iowa to administer an emergency medication that counteracts the effects of an opiod overdose.

People who die from opioid overdoses often do so because the drug causes them to stop breathing, or their hearts to stop pumping. But the medication Naloxone can prevent death by counteracting the depression of the central nervous and repertory systems by ejecting opioid from receptors in the brain.

“We can and we should continue to works towards decreasing the number of people who become addicted to opioids,” says Branstad. “But this legislation is a positive step forward in decreasing the tragedies that an opioid overdose can have on Iowans and their loved ones.”

Some worry that making Naloxone more readily available might lull the public into a false sense of security. But advocates like registered nurse Kim Brown of Davenport says she wants Naloxone to be in the hands of friends and families of active opioid users.

Brown has been personally touched by the nation’s heroin epidemic. Her son Andy died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2011. Brown says Andy wasn’t alone when he overdosed, so she thinks Naloxone might have saved his life, and given Andy an opportunity to break his addiction.

“You cannot rehab a dead kid. And once they’re dead, there’s no coming back,” says Brown.

Now that it’s legal, Brown plans to train others on how to administer Naloxone injections.

The new law also protects a person administrating Naloxone from liability also long as they act reasonably and in good faith.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Iowa joins 45 other states in allowing lay people to administer this lifesaving medication.