- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The Alaska House has passed legislation expanding access to a drug used to treat opioid overdose.

The bill, which passed 36-0, provides immunity for medical personnel or those who have received training to give someone Naloxone.

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.

Dr. Michael Merrick, a Kenai Peninsula physician who treats addicts, says increasing access to the drug is important for people who have relatives who are addicted to heroin or other opioids and need access to treat overdoses.

The bill has already passed the Senate but senators will be asked concur to changes made in the House that would allow pharmacists to dispense the drug prescriptions.

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