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Physician Sponsors Naloxone Legislation

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New Mexico has one of the highest overdose death rates in the country, and recent spikes in the state’s numbers have been linked to the abuse of prescription opiates. But a drug that reverses overdoses is about to become more widely available.

Rep. Terry McMillan of Las Cruces is a surgeon and the only physician serving in the state’s Legislature. The Republican carried a measure this session that allows doctors to write prescriptions not just for individuals but for places like recovery centers, shelters and police departments.

"Physicians can write standing orders—and I’ll be writing a bunch of these in the near future for various institutions," he said. "I encourage all the patients out there who are on chronic opioid therapy for management of pain to have a prescription for naloxone and I encourage their family members to have one."

The bill also legally protects someone who gives naloxone to a person they believe is having an overdose. "We want to distribute this medication widely, so that it can be used and deployed and people feel safe deploying it without risk of any type of litigation," McMillan said. "It’ll save lives."

He added that the drug is administered through the nose, and there are no side effects.

Naloxone is not available over-the-counter yet. That’s up to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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