Powerful Medicine to Combat Addiction
In the weeks following each legislative session, the governor reviews bills passed by the General Assembly and, with a stroke of his pen, completes the process of legislative proposals becoming law. Recently, the governor signed House Bill 2162, a measure authorizing pharmacists to dispense naltrexone hydrochloride, a medication aimed at preventing opioid addiction relapse, without prescription. This legislation is identical to a measure I sponsored, Senate Bill 1037.
For those who aren’t familiar with these things – and I would pray to God that you are spared intimate knowledge of issues relating to opioid addiction – naltrexone interrupts the reward sensations associated with opioid drugs. The person taking this medication simply gets no high from opioids, whether they be natural opioids such as codeine or morphine, or synthetic opioids such as heroin or fentanyl. Naltrexone is safe, non-addictive and protects those who take the medication for up to 24 hours.
On the day I presented SB 1037 to the Senate Seniors, Families, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee I was joined by representatives of the pharmacy industry and organizations involved in addiction treatment and recovery. These witnesses testified naltrexone is a powerful tool that helps individuals battling opioid misuse disorders maintain their recovery and prevent relapse. The committee heard how this medication can prevent overdose or even suicide during the critical time when an opioid-dependent individual waits for placement in a recovery or treatment center, or when a person has hit a hard moment in their life, like the death of a loved one, and know that they are struggling to maintain their sobriety. Put simply, naltrexone saves lives.
Opioid addiction affects one in three Americans today, either themselves, or someone they are close to. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 760,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses since 1999. The situation is especially dire in rural areas. As far too many families are well aware, many of these deaths are people who began a downward spiral into addiction with a powerful narcotic painkiller prescribed by a medical professional. It is often through this path that the terrible scourge of opioid addiction has reached into the homes of so many American families.
Fortunately, great strides have been made in recent years in the battle against the opioid epidemic. With the governor’s signature on HB 2162, Missouri has taken another critical step toward addressing the opioid epidemic in rural Missouri and I’m proud to have played a part in seeing this important change becoming law in our state.
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. You may write me at Holly Thompson Rehder, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Rm 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101, send an email to Holly.Rehder@senate.mo.gov or visit www.senate.mo.gov/Rehder.