By Hannah Kanfer
The opioid epidemic has been a long battle in the United States and with the added stress of the pandemic, it continues to devastate communities. In 2019, an average of 38 people died each day from overdoses involving prescription opioids.
This has prompted states, like Illinois, to pass laws to help curb and prevent opioid overdose deaths.
Senate Bill 2535 will require pharmacists who dispense opioid prescriptions to patients to simultaneously offer a prescription for Naloxone, a policy known as co-prescribing. Naloxone is an FDA- approved drug used to reverse opioid overdose often used by emergency personnel.
However, often by the time emergency personnel reach a person having an overdose, it is already too late. By prescribing patients with these life-saving medications, providers are helping protect and increase patient safety.
This bill comes as no surprise as Illinois has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. In 2020, Illinois’s opioid overdose deaths increased by 33%, with those numbers projected to increase.
It isn’t just victims and their families who are supporting this bill, providers are also weighing in on the importance of expanding access to this medication. Other states have passed similar legislation, Ohio passed a bill making it easier for pharmacists to prescribe and distribute Naloxone.
It has been shown that increased access to Naloxone helps prevent opioid overdoses, a large scale study found that opioid overdose deaths decreased by 14 % in states after they enacted naloxone access laws.
The bill was passed in March by the Illinois General Assembly and is now waiting to be signed into law by Governor J. B. Pritzker.
Hopefully, by enacting preventive measures like this law, Illinois can take the necessary steps to combat the opioid epidemic.