During the 2017 legislative session, multiple bills in the House and Senate were introduced to help fight the opioid epidemic that is devastating lives across Georgia and the entire country. On May 4, 2017, Gov. Deal signed three pieces of prescription drug abuse legislation -- SB121, the Jeffrey Dallas Gay, Jr., Act; SB88, the Narcotic Treatment Programs Enforcement Act; and HB249, which moves the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program from the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency to the Department of Public Health.
SB 121 allows over-the-counter sales of Naloxone, an opioid overdose-reversing drug which has proved critical in saving lives. Via executive order in December 2016, Gov. Deal began allowing pharmacists to dispense the drug for rescue kits, but the signing of this law will allow the practice to continue long term. The bill is named for the grandson of Dallas Gay, a Gainesville businessman who was instrumental in pushing for the measure. Jeffrey struggled with prescription drug abuse and died of an opioid overdose in 2012.
By voting in favor of this legislation, my hope is that we can begin to turn the tide of the opioid epidemic in our state, saving other Georgia families from the heartbreak of losing loved ones to this problem. I will continue to strongly advocate for ways to address this epidemic that resulted in 50,000 -- 60,000 deaths in the United States is 2016.