- Associated Press - Friday, March 17, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Legislation allowing state health officials to extend a program for broader distribution of a drug used to prevent opioid overdose has passed the Alaska Senate.

Thursday’s unanimous vote followed Gov. Bill Walker’s request that the public health disaster declaration he issued last month in response to rampant opioid abuse be extended to February 2018.

Walker had said the declaration would let the state provide standing medical orders allowing for broader distribution of naloxone, which can be used to prevent opioid overdose.

He proposed spending about $4.1 million in federal grants through August 2021 for a naloxone program.

The Senate bill instead would permit a standing medical order for the program through June 2021. It also calls for reports on efforts to fight opioid abuse.

The House gets the bill next.

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