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Overdose Prevention: Naloxone Access in Michigan

posted on Wed, Apr 29 2015 11:50 am by Southeastern Region

The Network was contacted by a public health advocate in Michigan who asked if Michigan House Bill 5404, regarding naloxone, requires emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to carry naloxone when on the job.

Naloxone – sometimes also called Narcan – is a drug used to inhibit the effects of opioids such as morphine and heroin. It works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, preventing the active narcotic from itself binding to those receptors. Naloxone is used to treat opioid overdose, and is remarkable for its effectiveness, minimal side effects and the fact that it has no effect on a patient who doesn’t have opioids in its system. As a result, many jurisdictions have begun permitting persons other than doctors - such as police or EMTs - to carry and administer naloxone despite its status as a prescription medication.

Michigan House Bill 5404 proposed the following language:

(k) Except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, within 12 months after the effective date of the amendatory act that added this subdivision, protocols to ensure that each life support vehicle that is dispatched and responding to provide medical first response life support, basic life support, or limited advanced life support is equipped with opioid antagonists and that each emergency services personnel is properly trained to administer opioid antagonists. Beginning 3 years after the effective date of the amendatory act that added this subdivision, a medical control authority, at its discretion, may rescind or continue the protocol adopted under this subdivision.

In other words, EMTs are not required to carry naloxone on their persons, but ambulances must be equipped with naloxone and EMTs must be trained in its proper use. After three years, a medical control authority – in Michigan, “an organization designated by the department for the purpose of supervising and coordinating an emergency medical services (EMS) system” - may choose to stop equipping their emergency vehicles with naloxone.

In October of 2014, House Bill 5404 was signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder and became Public Act 312. For more information on naloxone and legal solutions to drug overdose prevention, check out the Network’s fact sheet on legal interventions to reduce overdose mortality and view a recording of the Network’s webinar from August 28th, 2014, Legal and Policy Tools in Drug Overdose Prevention.

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