Councilmember Introduces Bill To Cut Down Opioid-Related Deaths

Honolulu Councilmember Tyler Dos Santos-Tam introduces Bill 28 which will require nightclubs and other high-risk venues to maintain doses of naloxone spray onsite in case of an opioid overdose.

The bill was introduced following the Federal Drug Administration’s approval of naloxone, a lifesaving opioid overdose reversal medication, to be available as an over-the-counter medication.

The opioid epidemic is a public health issue that has been intensified by the rise of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. From August 2017 to August 2018, there were 59 deaths in the State of Hawaii from opioid overdose according to the Hawaii State Health Department. In 2020, that number increased to 274 deaths.

“Narcan saves lives. With the widespread proliferation of synthetic opioids in our community, it is more important than ever that we make this life-saving resource as accessible as possible. Bill 28 is about keeping the public safe – it is about using every tool at our disposal to prevent accidental overdoses,” said Councilmember Tyler Dos Santos-Tam.

A supporter of the bill, Robbie Baldwin, owner of Chinatown nightclub Scarlet Honolulu said: “Overdoses happen, especially when mixed with alcohol. Our bars and nightclubs must be prepared for every contingency. I am grateful that the City Council is taking on this important issue. This bill will protect businesses, patrons, and the public at large.”

If the bill is passed, it would be effective on January 1, 2024.

“Opioid-related overdoses are at an all-time high in Hawaii.  Naloxone is a very safe drug that reverses overdoses, and this measure will help get Naloxone into spaces where it will save lives,” said Heather Lusk, Executive Director of the Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center. “Learning how to use it and having access should be as standard as CPR training and access to AEDs.”

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