McCrory Signs 911 Good Samaritan/Naloxone Access Bill
On Tuesday, April 9th, Governor McCrory signed Senate Bill 20 (SB20), Good Samaritan Law/Naloxone Access, into law, effective immediately. In an effort to reduce drug overdose fatalities in North Carolina, 911 Good Samaritan law provides limited criminal immunity from prosecution charges for less than one gram of drugs or paraphernalia to people who call 911 to report an overdose. The immunity also applies to underage drinkers who seek help for alcohol poisoning. In North Carolina, more than half of drug overdoses occur in the presence of another person, yet in most cases, witnesses are afraid to call for help for fear of police and criminal repercussions for drug possession. 911 Good Samaritan laws place the importance of human life above arrest for small amounts of drugs in order to encourage overdose witnesses to seek help.
The Naloxone Access portion of the law removes civil liabilities for medical providers who prescribe naloxone, the antidote to opioid overdose, and for bystanders who administer it to someone experiencing an overdose. SB20 also allows for a standing order distribution, meaning that medical practitioners can grant permission to nurses and overdose prevention groups to dispense naloxone without a doctor present
SB20 was sponsored by Senators Austin Allran (R) and Stan Bingham (R), and co-sponsored by Senators Shirley Randleman (R) and Floyd McKissick (D).
“SB20 is an important step to combat the epidemic of drug overdoses in our state,” says Senator Allran, sponsor. “There was bipartisan support for this bill because everyone recognizes that it’s about saving lives and giving people a second chance to get into treatment.”
In the past decade overdose deaths have tripled, claiming over 1100 North Carolinians last year, while nationwide overdose deaths have surpassed auto fatalities as the leading cause of accidental death. If left unmitigated, drug overdose deaths could rise to become North Carolina’s primary cause of accidental death by 2017. Most overdoses are caused by prescription medications, in particular opioid pain relievers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and morphine.
“This is a great day for injury prevention in North Carolina,” says Robert Childs, Executive Director of the NC Harm Reduction Coalition, a public health nonprofit that advocated for the bill. “With overdose fatalities becoming an increasing problem in our state, this law is a great step towards curbing preventable deaths and saving the lives of our loved ones.”