Bill addressing opioid epidemic in Oregon passes House, moves to Senate

A new bill aims to address the opioid and fentanyl crisis that is taking the lives of hundreds in Oregon.
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 6:30 AM PST
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SALEM, Ore. (KPTV) - A new bill aims to address the opioid and fentanyl crisis that is taking the lives of hundreds in Oregon.

According to the House, 745 people died in Oregon from opioid overdoses in 2021. Three people in the state die everyday because of, what the House calls, this growing epidemic.

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House Bill 2395 passed the House on Monday. If it becomes law, it would make naloxone kits more available in public buildings like restaurants, grocery stores, police departments, and schools.

The bill would also allow the Oregon Health Authority to issue standing prescriptions for opioid antagonists. An opioid antagonist is a drug that blocks opioids by attaching to opioid receptors without activating them. Essentially, it blocks the effects of opioids already in someone’s system, including pain or even euphoria from the drug.

The bill also calls to decriminalize the distribution of fentanyl test strips and other tools used as interventions for someone at risk of overdosing.

During a hearing for the bill on Jan. 30, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt discussed how the bill may impact someone who is currently abusing opioids or fentanyl.

“There’s a perception that making short-acting opioid antagonists available to users encourages them to use more. Maybe the thought is that by knowing a lifesaving tool is available people will engage in riskier behaviors, but that perception is not born out by the evidence or experience,” Schmidt said. “From what my office observes in the criminal justice system, the vast majority of individuals who interact with the criminal system who have substance use disorders are not seeking naloxone so they can continue use without consequence, they are seeking naloxone so that they can continue to live for another day.”

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House Bill 2395 will go before the Oregon Senate on Tuesday.