Gov. Jay Nixon has signed into law legislation to expand access to medication to combat some drug overdoses.
Naloxone hydrochloride, also known by the brand name Narcan, has been approved by the FDA for use to block overdoses from opioids, which include heroin and prescription drugs, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.
House Bill 1568 allows pharmacists to sell naloxone to the general public and removes criminal penalties for anyone who possesses or administers the drug to someone who has overdosed on an opioid.
"Increasing access to naloxone is a proven, safe and highly effective way to prevent opioid overdose deaths," Nixon said in a written statement. "While I am disappointed that the legislature failed to pass a prescription drug monitoring program, expanding access to naloxone is an important step forward that will save lives."
The new law was sponsored by state Rep. Steve Lynch, R-Waynesville.
"Two-thirds of (opioid) overdoses take place in someone's home, and there's almost always somebody (else) around," Lynch said. "To make this life rescue drug available in the home for loved ones, moms and dads, sisters or brothers, husbands or wives, will literally save hundreds of lives."
Lynch said he got involved in the issue after the son of a childhood friend died of a heroin overdose.
"As I began to learn more and more about it, parents and family members just started coming to me and telling me their stories about the loss of their family members who they believe could have been saved if they had Narcan or naloxone in the home," he said. "The need for it, unfortunately, has grown and grown over the last couple of years."
Lynch authored a similar law two years ago that allows first responders to administer naloxone to those suffering an overdose.
The new law will take effect Aug. 28.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport