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Kansas expands access drugs that stop opioid overdoses

Associated Press - April 9, 2017 8:15 am

A top Democratic lawmaker says he is joining the crowded race to replace Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. House Minority Leader Jim Ward of Wichita announced his candidacy Saturday. He had named former Democratic Party chairman Lee Kinch as his campaign treasurer earlier this week.

First responders and bystanders in Kansas will soon be able to administer life-saving drugs that stop the effects of opioid drug overdoses.

Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill Friday allowing first responders to administer drugs like naloxone, called “opioid antagonists.” The drugs stop fatal symptoms of prescription drug and heroin overdoses. The law also allows pharmacists to give people the drug without a prescription.

The Legislature passed the measure unanimously. Forty-seven other states have similar laws to help combat a national addiction crisis.

Kansas hasn’t seen the spike in overdose deaths some other states have, but the health department says prescription drug overdoses rose 28 percent and heroin overdoses rose 71 percent between 2013 and 2015.

Brownback says the law is a “good step toward saving lives in Kansas.”