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SPRINGFIELD — Seeking to expand the availability of emergency medication that has already saved lives in Lake County, State Sen. Melinda Bush took up legislation that would make opioid antagonist drugs like Narcan available at pharmacies.
“Just a few days ago, Mundelein Police saved a man’s life because they were equipped with and trained in the use of naloxone hydrochloride, a drug that counteracts the effects of a narcotic overdose,” the Grayslake Democrat said. “Heroin use, particularly among our youth, has become a serious problem in Lake County and the suburban cities I represent. By making opioid antagonist drugs like Narcan available by prescription at pharmacies, we give families access to a safe, easy-to-use drug that could save lives.”
Naloxone hydrochloride, sometimes sold under the brand name “Narcan,” is an opioid antagonist drug. Delivered via a nasal injection, the fast-acting drug blocks the effects of narcotics on the brain. When administered quickly enough, it 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. Bush is sponsoring the legislation, crafted by state Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, as it proceeds to discussion in the Senate Public Health Committee.
Eric Guenther, Chief of the Mundelein Police Department, said mere minutes can mean the difference between life and death in the cases of narcotics overdoses that Narcan can prevent.
“This is a remarkable drug that is available, and it’s relatively simple,” Guenther said. “It’s been available to citizens in general through not-for-profit agencies for a while and it’s just becoming more mainstream and known. I think it’s good to have those families who know they need it to have it there to save a family member.”
Bush said she has heard concerns about the drug’s availability in households possibly enabling narcotic use, but, she said, 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. This just gives a trusted person the ability to save somebody who is overdosing in the precious minutes available.”
Guenther said he understands such concerns, but that having Narcan available to those who have been screened and prescribed it could give somebody a second chance.
“My response to that is: Look, this is someone’s son, someone’s daughter. If we can give them one more chance at life and one more chance to get it right, aren’t we obligated as public safety professionals to do that?”
The legislation is Senate Bill 1466. It proceeds to the Senate Public Health Committee for debate.

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