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Lawmakers weigh option of co-prescribing naloxone with opiates

FILE - Jim Williams, firefighter paramedic Salt Lake City Fire Department shows a vial of naloxone. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously in favor of a bill to set guidelines for prescribing opiate antagonists, such as naloxone,
FILE - Jim Williams, firefighter paramedic Salt Lake City Fire Department shows a vial of naloxone. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously in favor of a bill to set guidelines for prescribing opiate antagonists, such as naloxone, alongside prescription opiates.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Further protections against opioid addiction may come in the form of guidelines for co-prescribing opiate antagonists.

Naloxone is one drug often used as a life-saving option for reversing the effects of an opiate overdose. While available over the counter, proposed legislation would allow doctors to prescribe naloxone alongside opiate prescriptions.

SB258, sponsored by Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, passed through the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Monday.

Mayne said she would approve of the bill either carrying forward or being placed in an interim study group.

"My goal is to have discussion," she said.

SB258 would not create any added liability for physicians and prescribers.

Mayne said the bill would be a tool for physicians to use their knowledge of their patients to make a judgement on whether to co-prescribe naloxone with opioids.

Joel Johnson, of the Utah Association of Addiction Treatment Prescribers, supported Mayne's bill.

"It is just essentially getting the public more aware of the naloxone, which I think we have done a pretty good job in this state so far," Johnson said. "The idea generally is just to get more naloxone out there, more of this life-saving drug out there, and this is just another vehicle to do that."

Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, initially motioned to refer the bill for interim study.

Vickers said he liked the concept but felt there were "unknowns" within the bill.

Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, made a substitute motion to forward the bill to the Senate floor with a favorable recommendation.

"I think that's dumping the responsibility back on the Department of Health to discuss it and see what they come up with," Christensen said.

Despite Vickers' misgivings, the bill passed with unanimous support.