Governor Deal signs Naloxone bill into law - expanding access to an emergency tool to parents to help fight opioid epidemic

April 18, 2017

Today Gov. Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 121 into law. This law provides an additional tool, naloxone, that will expand access to a life-saving drug to stem the tide of the opioid epidemic.

This past December 2016, in a request to the Georgia Pharmacy Board, Deal asked that naloxone, an emergency drug used to reverse opioid overdoses, be removed from the dangerous drug list and rescheduled as a Schedule V exempt drug. The Georgia Board of Pharmacy approved the emergency rule to remove naloxone. At the same time, Deal directed the Department of Public Health (DPH) to issue a standing order to allow naloxone to be dispensed over-the-counter by pharmacists across the state.

In order to permanently codify this rule, the Georgia General Assembly needed to amend state law. This was done today with the signing of SB121.

“The state of Georgia and the country as a whole are currently experiencing an opioid abuse epidemic. In the fight against this trend, naloxone has come to be considered an important and life-saving tool in treating opioid overdoses. We are now building upon our previous efforts to expand access to naloxone for first responders and others who regularly encounter overdoses as they are occurring by placing this tool in the hands of Georgians, especially parents, who are both firsthand witnesses and victims of opioid overdose. We will continue working to implement similar efforts to save lives across the state.

Previously, Gov. Deal made these comments:

“Yesterday, The 21st Century Cures Act, bipartisan health care legislation that includes additional federal funding for states to fight the opioid crisis, was signed into law. Funding from this legislation will expand access to naloxone and help lower its price. I commend the Georgia Board of Pharmacy for acting quickly on this matter and DPH for issuing a standing order, basically a statewide prescription, to ensure that this life-saving drug is available to those who may need it.”

 Naloxone does not produce a high and adverse effects are rare in therapeutic doses. Deal signed the Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law in 2014, making Georgia the 19th state to extend legal protections to those who administer naloxone to someone experiencing an overdose. Deal intends to introduce additional legislation in the upcoming session to continue fighting the opioid epidemic plaguing Georgia.

“Naloxone is a powerful weapon in the fight against the increasing epidemic of opioid abuse that poses a threat to public health in Georgia,” said DPH Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. “The governor’s decisive action to make this drug accessible to anyone in a position to assist persons at risk of overdose will save countless lives.”


Please Note:

- The newly attached Naloxone Standing Order has Dr. Fitzgerald's DEA permit number. This number was added to assist pharmacy computer systems which were requiring entry of a prescriber DEA number before the system would accept the Naloxone order. The 12-14-2017 is still valid, and it is the same as this new order - except this new order simply has her DEA number attached,

- Naloxone will be available from purchase from retail pharmacies to anyone desiring to have the drug on-hand to treat an opioid overdose.

- Not all pharmacies carry naloxone, so please call ahead to a pharmacy to determine if they stock the drug to save yourself the trouble of going in search of the drug going from one pharmacy to the next.  If your pharmacy does not carry naloxone, please refer the pharmacist to this GDNA website, for details.

- Pharmacists will need your name and address to use the same as if filling a prescription, because in fact that's ecactly what they will be doing - except they are filling a standing order prescription from the Dept. of Public Health Commissioner.

- This standing order allows law enforcement agencies, other first responders, and other authorized health provide groups to obtain naloxone as set forth in the 2014 law change - meaning pharmacists can use this standing order as the authorizing prescrption to sell naloxone to these groups

- It is unknown if insurance plans will pay for naloxone purchased via this standing order. In some cases a person will need to pay cash or use a credit card to purchase naloxone.

- To fill a naloxone standing order, pharmacists will need to use the NPI number for Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the DPH Commissioner. Her NPI number is: 1740203249

- For Naloxone rescue kits types, refer to the law, i.e. Senate Bill 121