ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING PRAISES WALGREENS FOR EXPANDING ACCESS TO NALOXONE, HELPING TO CONTROL PRESCRIPTION PAIN KILLERS
RICHMOND, Va. – Attorney General Mark R. Herring issued the following statement regarding the announcement by Walgreens that it will take additional steps to combat heroin and prescription drug abuse by installing medication disposal kiosks and making naloxone, a life-saving overdose antidote, available in its stores in Virginia.
“This is a huge step forward in stemming the tide of fatal heroin and prescription drug overdoses in the Commonwealth. I thank and commend Walgreens for being proactive and I encourage more pharmacies to take advantage of the new Virginia law that allows for distribution of naloxone without a prescription. More than 700 Virginians died last year from a heroin or prescription drug overdose, and an untold number could have been saved if naloxone had been administered in time. Any family could be touched by an accidental overdose, whether because of opioid addiction or something as simple as a child accidentally ingesting a powerful painkiller prescribed to a parent or grandparent. That’s when seconds count and when quickly administering naloxone can save a life.
“Last year we brought forward bipartisan legislation to significantly expand the availability of naloxone. Because of that bill, and the great input of legislators and the Governor’s office, every law enforcement agency in Virginia can now carry naloxone, and this life-saving overdose antidote is available without a prescription in many pharmacies. Combining a naloxone expansion with the creation of Virginia’s first “good Samaritan” provision, which encourages people in the presence of an overdose to call for help, will save lives and help us get more people struggling with addiction the treatment they need.”
In 2015, Attorney General Herring worked in a bipartisan way to pass three anti-overdose bills which became law on July 1, 2015, including:
HB1500– Safe Reporting (Carr, McClellan, O’Bannon, Rasoul, Rust):
This bill will encourage reporting of overdoses in progress by establishing an affirmative defense for minor possession or intoxication crimes if a person reports an overdose, remains on the scene, and identifies themselves as the reporter. Safe reporting provisions currently exist in 21 other states and the District of Columbia.
HB1458– Statewide Naloxone Expansion (Carr, Hodges, O’Bannon, Rust):
Naloxone is a prescription drug that counteracts the effects of a heroin or prescription opioid overdose. This bill expands the current naloxone pilot project to authorize naloxone use by any law enforcement agency in the Commonwealth. It also provides immunity to law enforcement who administer the drug. Similar authorization currently exists in 23 states. According to the Centers for Disease Control, naloxone successfully reversed more than 10,000 overdoses between 1996 and 2010.
SB817– Access to PMP by Probation Officers (Howell):
This bill will allow probation officers to access Virginia’s Prescription Monitoring Program to ensure their probationers are not getting opioid prescriptions they are not authorized to have.
In the 2016 session, Attorney General Herring is working with legislators to strengthen Virginia’s drug-induced homicide statute so local prosecutors can hold dealers and traffickers accountable when their drugs lead to a fatal overdose. The bill is HB102 carried by Del. Scott Lingamfelter.
Attorney General Herring has made combating the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic a top priority, attacking the problem with a multifaceted approach that includes enforcement, legislation, education, and prevention. In the last year and a half, Attorney General Herring and his team have worked with local and federal partners to prosecute more than 28 cases against dealers and traffickers involving more than 95 kilograms of heroin, or approximately 238,500 daily doses, with an estimated street value of more than $19 million.
His office has also created a documentary called “Heroin: The Hardest Hit” which features Virginians sharing their own stories of addiction, overdose, and recovery. It also includes stories of young people who lost their lives to a fatal heroin overdose.