The General Assembly this session will look to address the state’s ongoing drug crisis by expanding the Lifeline law and making it easier for people to get their hands on a drug that halts the fatal effects of a drug overdose. The proposed legislation comes with the backing of Governor Mike Pence and the state’s drug abuse task force.
The Lifeline law provides drunk minors with immunity from underage drinking charges if they seek medical or police help for any reason. Indianapolis Republican Senator Jim Merritt wants to expand it further, this time providing immunity from drug charges for people under 21.
“We’re seeing a lot of kids under 21 using drugs,” he says, “and this is the first step to admitting that that is a mistake, but someone’s life is more important than breaking the law.”
Another bill expanding on previous legislation deals with the overdose intervention drug naloxone. 2015 legislation allowed doctors to prescribe it to the general public. But few pharmacies stock it. Merritt says the new bill directs the Department of Health to issue what’s called a standing order for the drug.
“Addicts don’t want to go into the doctor’s office; that is chilling for them,” Merrit says. “So we’re alleviating all that pressure and we are having the Department of Health write a prescription for 6.6 million people.”
Pharmacies would be able to give out naloxone without a doctor’s prescription. Merritt hopes this will encourage more pharmacies to stock it.