NASHVILLE, Tenn (WKRN) — The United States has reached a record number of overdose deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
On Wednesday, the CDC released new figures stating more than 107,000 Americans died of an overdose last year. That number up about 15% from 2020. This translates to roughly one overdose death every five minutes.
But a Tennessee bill could help increase access to a life-saving drug that reverses the effects of an overdose if Governor Bill Lee signs it into law.
House Bill 2228 would require pharmacists or healthcare providers to offer a naloxone prescription to anyone that’s also taking prescribed opioids.
The co-prescribing measure would protect at-risk patients from accidental overdoses under certain circumstances. This includes anyone with a history of overdose, anyone taking more than a three-day supply of an opioid medication and those concurrently taking benzodiazepine.
Elliot Pinsly, CEO of The Behavioral Health Foundation, said any increase in naloxone distribution is a good thing.
“This bill is about co-prescribing of naloxone. It will help expand naloxone, which is otherwise known as Narcan, which is the name brand,” Pinsley said. “The more Narcan we can get out there, or naloxone we can get out there, the better.”
Pinsly said in 2020, our state saw about 3,000 drug overdose deaths — In 2021, almost 4,000. But HB 2228 could help combat those numbers.
“The more people that have access to naloxone, the better. Because we know that four or so out of every five overdose deaths in the United States and in Tennessee are related to opioids,” Pinsly said.
Pinsly stressed that naloxone is a proven tool that helps save lives.
“We need to get it out there in the community more. We need to educate more people about what it is, what it does, and that anyone can use it. It’s really not complicated,” Pisnly said.
Naloxone can be administrated via nasal spray or an injection.
House Bill 2228 has passed both chambers and now heads to the governor’s desk.