Nov 6, 2023 | Press Releases

Nunn Introduces Bipartisan Legislation To Save Lives From Overdoses

DES MOINES – U.S. Representatives Zach Nunn (IA-03) and Ruben Gallego (AZ-03) today announced bipartisan legislation to expand access to overdose reversal medication and save lives. The Overdose Reversal Medication Act will expand grant opportunities to assist with acquiring naloxone and provide training for using it to local businesses, individuals, and community organizations. 

“The fentanyl crisis is impacting Iowans in every neighborhood,” said Rep. Nunn. “We can and must save lives from overdoses. Expanding access to reversal medication is critical to ensure life saving care is available in the event of an overdose.” 

Each day, more than 150 people die from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. In 2021, there were 398 deaths due to overdose in Iowa. A lethal dosage of fentanyl is less than two milligrams – a level that you cannot see taste or smell – making it impossible to detect without testing. 

“Arizona’s fentanyl crisis has touched every community across our state,” said Rep. Gallego. “The deadly drug is tearing our community apart, and Congress must do all we can to save lives. That’s why I’m proud to introduce our bipartisan bill to ensure Arizona’s businesses are equipped to provide the lifesaving care needed in the event of an overdose. It shouldn’t have to be this way, and that’s why I won’t stop pushing for solutions that end the fentanyl epidemic.”   

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all fatal overdoses had at least one opportunity for a bystander to intervene. Naloxone is a lifesaving medication that can reverse an overdose from opioids when given in time. In March of this year, the FDA approved Narcan nasal spray, a name brand of Naloxone, for over-the-counter use.  

“These medications are like a real life miracle happening before your eyes,” said Dr. Clint Hawthorne, Medical Director of UnityPoint Des Moines Emergency Department. “With them, patients go from the brink of death to sitting up and talking in seconds. They are not only lifesaving but also life changing; providing many with a chance at recovery from dependency.” 

Specifically, the bipartisan Overdose Reversal Medication Act would: 

  • Expand the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Grant Program to include local businesses, individuals, and community entities so that they can acquire opioid overdose reversal medication and provide training. 

  • Direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to publish a standard for employers to maintain opioid overdose reversal medication onsite and provide training for employees.  

Text of the bill can be found here.