By Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia pharmacists can now dispense a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses without a prescription.

Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday asked the Georgia Department of Public Health to issue the order on the drug called naloxone. The state’s Board of Pharmacy also has removed the drug from its dangerous drug list.

Deal also announced Wednesday that he plans to introduce legislation aimed at opioid abuse when lawmakers return to the Capitol in January.

Deal says Georgia and the country as a whole are in the midst of an opioid abuse epidemic. He says the changes will give access to the overdose-reversing drug to addicts’ family members.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 1,200 people overdosed on drugs in Georgia in 2014, a 10 percent increase from 2013.

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