The case of Stephanie Bongiovi makes the argument for broader Good Samaritan laws and the wider use of the overdose antidote naloxone.
In the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers call for wider adoption of Good Samaritan laws and federal action to facilitate the distribution of naloxone to treat victims of heroin or prescription-painkiller overdoses.
But it’s not simply the legal ramifications that are thwarting efforts to change overdose treatment. Naloxone’s cost and prescription-only status may also keep it from being used more widely. It is currently a prescription drug that is only approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in its injectable form, and since injectable medications need to be sterile, they are generally more expensive to make and buy. Shortages in these drugs are also a growing problem. “The production process for ‘sterile injectables’ like naloxone is prone to any number of problems — of which the recent meningitis-contamination horror story is an extreme example,” explains Leo Beletsky, lead author of the study and assistant professor of law and health sciences at Northeastern University.