SANTA FE ― The House Health and Human Services Committee has passed legislation to prevent opioid drug overdoses in New Mexico. House Bill 370, sponsored by Reps. Sarah Maestas Barnes (R-Bernalillo) and Rebecca Dow (R-Grant, Hidalgo and Sierra), passed by a vote of 6 to 0.
The bill aims to increase awareness and access to naloxone. Naloxone, also known as Narcan, blocks the effects of opioids and is used to treat suspected opioid overdoses. House Bill 370 would require federally-certified opioid treatment centers to provide patients with overdose education, a prescription for naloxone, and two doses of the medicine. The same requirements would apply to prisons releasing inmates diagnosed with an opioid use disorder. In addition, the bill would require law enforcement officers to carry naloxone rescue kits and be trained on how to use them.
In 2015, drug overdose deaths in New Mexico declined by six percent from the previous year due to many prevention and intervention measures adopted by state and local entities. However, New Mexico’s opioid drug overdose death rate ranks 8th in the nation. Also, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the most common cause of death for former inmates in the two years following their release from prison is drug overdose. The provisions in House Bill 370 are intended to prevent overdose deaths among former inmates as well as the overall population.
“Opioid abuse and addiction is greatly affecting families here in New Mexico, as well as across the United States. While New Mexico has made progress in reducing the number of lives lost to drug addiction, we must do more,” Maestas Barnes said. “Increasing awareness of these emergency treatments to reverse drug overdoses will save lives and hopefully put people on the path to recovery. I am glad that full House will soon have the opportunity to approve this life-saving bill and send it to the Senate.”
House Bill 370 will now be placed on the House calendar.