NEW INFORMATION: Walker signs heroin antidote distribution bill

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Governor Scott Walker signed a bill today to give easier access to the public pharmacies to a certain drug that can save lives.

The bill eliminates the requirement for a traditional prescription for the access of a narcotics antidote.

Narcan or Naloxone is a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose of an opioid like heroin. The bill makes sure that there are standing orders available at pharmacies so they can deliver Narcan to individuals that are at-risk for an opioid overdose or to people who are in a position to assist those having an overdose.

John Schultz with the Eau Claire Fire Department EMS division says that Narcan is like a miracle drug for those having an overdose, but pharmacies should educate those taking it.

“It’s not really a dangerous drug,” Shultz tells WEAU. “It will reverse the effects. One effect of the narcotics is respiratory depression, possibly completely knocking out your breathing, and also sedation.

Schultz says that while the drug will wake someone up from an overdose, there are some side effects that first responders to an overdose need to be aware of.

“If you give them a full dose of Narcan, they have the potential of, when they wake up, not really out of control, but being very agitated,” Shultz commented. “You have to watch out for that as a first responder. They’re sick, they have withdrawal symptoms, and they might be agitated.”

Governor Walker says that heroin addiction is a problem and easier access to Narcan will ultimately help Wisconsin.

“We know that our ultimate goal is to get people free and independent from their addictions,” Walker said Tuesday. “You can’t deal with someone in treatment if they’re not alive.”

Other organizations think that the ability to have easier access for the drug is better than the alternative of someone dying of an overdose.

“The experience that our organization has had with this population is that folks want to have access to Narcan to administer it,” Bill Keeton, the Vice President of Government and Public Relations for AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, tells WEAU. “These are folks that may be participating in a self-destructive behavior; they certainly don’t want to die and don’t want to watch their friends to die.”

Walker says that having Narcan more readily available without the same prescription requirements than in the past will save countless lives.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill designed to make a heroin overdose antidote more readily available.

Under current law, doctors can give health centers, pharmacies and clinics general permission to dispense Narcan without specific prescriptions. But Attorney General Brad Schimel has raised concerns that those provisions don't trump other statutes requiring prescriptions to include a recipient's name.

Republican Rep. John Nygren's bill clarifies that pharmacies can hand out Narcan under a doctor's standing order.

Walker signed the bill Tuesday morning at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay.

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