Louisiana issues 'standing order' to make overdose drug available to the public

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - An overdose drug is now available to the public without a prescription from a doctor.

Naloxone, an antidote medication that reverses an opioid overdose, has previously only been available to medical professionals. The State of Louisiana has issued a "standing order" for the drug, which allows it to be sold over the counter.

"Opioid abuse is a concern as 80 percent of heroin users reported starting out misusing prescription opioids. By mid-year 2016, in both East Baton Rouge and Orleans Parishes, narcotic overdose deaths surpassed homicide deaths," said Governor John Bel Edwards. "As we continue to work to address the addiction problem, this standing order is one step we can take to help reduce the number of unnecessary deaths."

Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, signed the standing order.

"This is an important step in our fight against the opioid epidemic," Gee said. "By making this medication and education widely available, people who overdose can get the antidote quickly and administer it safely. This will save lives."

The increase of heroin-related deaths in East Baton Rouge Parish was first noted in 2012 with five deaths. In 2016, the East Baton Rouge Coroner confirmed 35 deaths were caused by a fatal dose of heroin. There were an additional 42 deaths caused by a drug overdose, many of which were caused by opioids.

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