New York Gov. Cuomo signs bill authorizing use of opioid antagonists by more public entities

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on Monday, authorizing more public entities to be able to use opioid antagonists for opioid overdose prevention.

The legislation, SB259/A7812A, will expand the people and organizations that are allowed to possess, distribute, and administer opioid overdose reversal medications. Now, restaurants, bars, malls, beauty parlors, theaters, hotels, and retail establishments can keep and use opioid antagonists effective immediately.

While the legislation does not mention a specific drug, the leading opioid antagonist is naloxone. Opioid antagonists bind to opioid receptors and can reverse or block the effects the drugs have on the body, like slow breathing or decreased heart rate. One FDA-approved formulation of naloxone is Narcan, a nasal spray. Use of the spray can restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing is impaired as a result of overdosing on heroin or prescription opioid pain medications.

“We have made tremendous progress in combating addiction across New York, and while we have seen a reduction in opioid deaths over the past 10 years, there is still work to be done,” Cuomo said. “This expansion of the Good Samaritan law gives additional entities the ability to save the life of an individual suffering from addiction without penalty. New York State will continue to do everything we can to expand access to critical care as we fight this deadly scourge and save lives.”

While opioid-related overdose deaths frequently occur in public spaces, many of these businesses and spaces have restricted the administration of medications like naloxone on their properties out of concerns the current Good Samaritan law would not cover them. This bill protects as many entities as possible by ensuring they are covered under that law.

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