Two opioid bills make their way through the Washington Legislature – State of Reform
A bill that would allow registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to administer opioid overdose medications like naloxone in emergency rooms was having an effect public audience February 15. The law project, HB 1761, was sponsored by representatives Joe Schmick and Jessica Bateman. While largely a technical fix, it could have significant implications in emergency care in the event of an overdose. Currently, only practitioners capable of issuing prescriptions are authorized to dispense naloxone in the emergency department. Another fentanyl testing bill previously reported by State of Reform relates to two opioid bills we are tracking.
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Naloxone is a controlled substance and would normally require a prescription to purchase. But Washington has been under a standing order pharmacists to provide naloxone to anyone who requests it. However, since many emergency departments do not have pharmacies, nurses are not explicitly allowed to administer the life-saving drug under current law.
“It amazes me that we have to pass a bill to allow nurses to dispense this in an emergency room,” Senator Judy Warnick said during the public hearing.
Naloxone is already included in medical kits for first responders.
Katie Kolan of the Washington State Hospital Association testified in support of the measure. The bill, as well as SB 5195 passed by the legislature last year, have dramatically expanded the ability of health care professionals to treat opioid overdoses.
Paula Meyer, executive director of the Department of Health’s Nursing Quality Assurance Committee, also testified in support.
With respect to the other opioid legislation, SB 5509 was approved by the Senate on February 8. Bill, sponsored by the senses. Jim Honeyford and Mark Mullet, would exempt fentanyl testing equipment from the definition of drug paraphernalia.
The bill was approved by the Senate without a dissenting vote and is making its way through the House. Although fentanyl test strips have long been used by advocacy groups and were even provided by the Department of Health under a now defunct pilot program, they can still technically be considered paraphernalia of drug use.
Fentanyl-related deaths have skyrocketed in Washington state and have only increased during the pandemic. A document by University of Washington doctors Caleb Banta-Green and Jason Williams, published in December, shows that between 2010 and 2020, 8,362 people died from overdoses involving opioids.
It found that in 2019, fentanyl topped other categories of opioids in overdose deaths in people under 30. Much of the fentanyl in the drug supply is likely illicitly manufactured. Additionally, most fentanyl in the state comes in tablet form and looks like legal prescription opioid pills, like oxycodone pills.
According to the report, fentanyl-related deaths appear to occur primarily among three groups: young adults inexperienced with opioids, young adults with rapid-onset opioid use disorder, and older adults with opioid use disorder. going on who often spend heroin.