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Legislature passes bill expanding access to overdose antidote

JUNEAU — Opioid users and the people who treat them may find it easier to access a common overdose treatment after the Alaska Legislature passed a bill protecting people who dispense the drug.

The bill passed through the Senate unanimously Wednesday and will next go to Gov. Bill Walker. A spokeswoman for Walker said he plans to sign the bill Monday.

The bill provides immunity for medical personnel or those who have received training to give someone naloxone. It also allows pharmacists to dispense the drug without prescriptions.

The drug, also known by the trade name Narcan, reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Opioids, like heroin, cause death by slowing and eventually stopping a victim's breathing.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 44 states and the District of Columbia currently have laws providing immunity to medical professionals who prescribe or dispense the rescue drug.