Gov. McMaster holds ceremonial bill signing for law expanding access to Naloxone
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - With families who have lost loved ones to substance use disorder in attendance, Governor Henry McMaster held a ceremonial bill signing on Tuesday for a law that will expand access to Naloxone, the life-saving overdose medication.
In addition to the bill signing, local organizations and advocates gathered on State House grounds for an event to remember lives lost to overdose and raise awareness about recovery resources.
The South Carolina chapter of Team Sharing Inc., a national organization of parents who have lost a child to substance use disorder, hosted the event.
Christine Gillis, an administrator of the SC chapter of Team Sharing Inc., said this law could go a long way toward ending the stigma associated with substance use disorder.
“We need to raise awareness to addiction and end the stigma so that people can talk about it, so that they can feel ok if they’re struggling with an addict in their family,” she said. “They’re not alone.”
The bill signed Tuesday requires doctors to co-prescribe Naloxone, available under the brand name Narcan when patients are being prescribed medications that put them at risk of overdose.
The governor called opioids a “scourge” on the state and said he’s glad that this overdose medication is now more readily available.
“I wish we had an antidote like Naloxone for a lot of other things that hit us, but we do have it for this,” McMaster said. “And this law makes it available, makes it amply available and for free to those who need it.”
Sarah Goldsby, director of the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS), says the bill is more important now than ever. She says it’s critical that health care professionals have these potentially life-saving conversations with their patients.
“Outreach, engagement and awareness is everything right now,” she said. “And every time anybody is at a point of contact with someone that can assist, we want to have these conversations.”
Karen Ogen, who lost her son Kevin to an overdose, believes a bill like this could have saved his life.
“I think it’s great that Narcan is going to be provided with prescription opioids at this time,” she said. “It’s possible that Kevin might still be here if Narcan had been available as his accidental overdose was due to opioids.”
Advocates say another reason why this bill is necessary is because overdose deaths in the state of South Carolina were up over 50 percent in the last year.
Rep. Russell Fry, R-Horry, who sponsored the legislation in the House, said the legislature has done well putting in policies that help address this issue, but more needs to be done.
“We have a long way to go, and we are not done yet,” he said. “It is very important that we continue to focus on this issue.”
Tuesday also marked Overdose Awareness Day in South Carolina, per a proclamation from the governor.
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