WASHINGTON (KAMR/KCIT) — Senators John Cornyn (TX) and Maggie Hassan (NH) introduced a bill Thursday aimed at expanding access to new overdose reversal agents.
Cornyn and Hassan introduced the Halting the Epidemic of Addiction and Loss (HEAL) Act, which looks to expand access to new opioid overdose reversal agents in addition to naloxone by updating guidance and grant language from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
“This bill would help first responders save more lives by expanding access to new, life-saving overdose reversal medicines, and I urge my colleagues to pass it without delay,” said Cornyn.
According to a news release from the office of Cornyn, almost 108,000 Americans died from drug overdoses or drug poisonings in the 12-month period ending January 2022, with 67% of those deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
“Our bipartisan bill will help increase access to these new reversal agents that will help save more Granite Staters’ lives,” said Hassan.
The HEAL Act looks to:
- Ensure that whenever HHS issues a regulation, guidance, or another document for any grant program addressing opioid misuse and use disorders, any reference to an opioid overdose reversal agent, such as naloxone, is inclusive of any opioid overdose reversal agent that has been approved or otherwise authorized for use by the FDA.
- Update naloxone-specific references to be “molecule agnostic” in regulation, guidance, and the following grant programs:
- Provide states, local governments, tribes, and nonprofits that receive HHS and SAMHSA grant funding or guidance the opportunity to use the product that best meets the needs of their communities.