Commercial businesses in New York will be able to administer opioid antidotes to their customers under expanded Good Samaritan protections signed Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The legislation, aimed at helping substance abusers during a pandemic that has put many of them at risk, will allow commercial establishments, including “restaurants, bars, malls, beauty parlors, theaters, hotels and retail establishments,” to use antidotes like Naloxone without fear of facing lawsuits if something goes awry.
“Opioid-related overdose deaths frequently occur in public spaces,” a release from the governor’s office said. “Yet, many of these public spaces have restricted the administration of Naloxone on their premises due to the concern that they would not be covered under the current Good Samaritan law.”
The measure won immediate support from other legislators.
“People carrying and administering naloxone often make the difference between life and death for an individual suffering an opioid overdose,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen overdose rates increasing nationwide, making access to naloxone even more critical in order to save lives and help individuals enter treatment.”
Nalaxone is often administered as a nasal spray under the brand name NARCAN.
“Every second counts when it comes to an overdose,” said Carol Hulsizer, founder of the non-profit Mission Recovery and Hope organization, noting it “would be awesome to have NARCAN on hand” for commercial businesses.
“The need for legislation like S8259/A7812A says a lot about just how litigious our society has become,” commented Tom Stebbins, executive director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York..
“The specter of liability and fear of lawsuits should not even be a factor when someone’s life is at stake. But here we are.”
The first four months of 2020 has shown a nationwide surge in drug overdose deaths.
This summary was prepared by TCR news reporting intern Laura Bowen.