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Senate passes lifesaving heroin antidote law by Bush

bush-narcan-passes2SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate voted to expand access to emergency, life-saving medication, announced State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake.

“Heroin use among our youth is a serious problem in the suburban areas I represent,” Bush said. “In the couple of weeks between this measure passing out of committee and today’s vote, Lake Zurich police saved another life with naloxone hydrochloride. By making opioid antidotes like Narcan available by prescription at pharmacies, we give families the same chance to stop a heroin overdose and save a life.”

Dubbed “Lali’s Law,” Senate Bill 1466 would make Narcan available by prescription, allowing families to keep it on hand in the event of an emergency.

The name honors the ongoing efforts of Live4Lali, a drug addiction education and awareness not-for-profit founded by Chelsea Laliberte and her mother. The family formed the organization after Alex “Lali” Laliberte, Chelsea’s brother, died of a heroin overdose in 2008. The group has promoted awareness of and access to the drug.

Delivered via a nasal injection, Narcan blocks the effects of narcotics like heroin on the brain. When administered quickly enough, the fast-acting drug can counteract the effects of a narcotics overdose. Medical professionals report little to no negative side effects in the event it is used in error.

The drug is already in use by law enforcement officials, who earlier this month saved a Lake Zurich man who was overdosing. In March, Mundelein police were able to save another man in a similar situation. Police chiefs like Lake Villa Police Department’s Craig Somerville and Eric Guenther, chief of the Mundelein Police Department, have expressed their support for wider availability of the antidote.

“I’ve been on many overdose scenes personally where EMTs came in and revived a person who was as good as gone,” Somerville said of his experience seeing the drug deployed in the field. “It’s pretty much foolproof. I’ll have it in the pocket of my uniform when I come into work tomorrow.”

Bush said concerns about the drug’s availability in households possibly enabling narcotic use is understandable, but the potential to save lives can’t be ignored.

“People didn’t start driving more recklessly because cars suddenly added seatbelts,” Bush said.  “Nobody goes out looking to OD.  When people do, those who discover them are often their family or friends. This could give people the ability to save a loved one in the precious minutes available.”

The proposal is Senate Bill 1466. It passed the Senate with a unanimous 56-0 vote and proceeds to the House for consideration.

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