A good samaritan law was recently passed in Missouri as part of a bill that addressed several health related reforms and changes.
The good samaritan law, called Bailey and Cody's Law by Rep. Steve Lynch, District 122, was named in honor of two young people who died as a result of other people being afraid to call 911 for fear of being in trouble.
The law, which has been signed by Governor Greitens, offers protection to individuals that call 911 "in good faith" in overdose cases. Lynch said, in situations where drugs or alcohol are being abused and someone overdoses, the individuals around that person can call for help without fear of being arrested.
Lynch pointed out that the protection is limited to individuals who might be under the influence themselves or in possession of "personal use" amounts of drugs, but the law isn't meant to protect drug dealers.
"This bill is not about letting people off the hook, it's about saving lives," Lynch said.
The type of scenario that the law is meant to provide for could be a situation where there is underage drinking at a party where drugs could also possibly be present. Lynch said the law allows the kids at that party to call 911 to save a life rather than leave and let someone die to avoid getting into trouble. The same is true in a drug use scenario where people are using together and one begins to overdose. The second individual can call 911 without fear of prosecution in order to save the life of the overdosing user.
Lynch has been a champion of several laws related to saving the lives of addicts since his election. His Narcan law has been expanded from law enforcement and first responders to include pharmacy sales. With the passage of Bill 501, which included Bailey and Cody's Law, pharmacists can now dispense Narcan to anyone.
Narcan (Naloxone) is a drug that counteracts opioid overdoses which can include drugs such as heroin, as well as prescription drugs such as hydrocodone or codeine.
All pharmacists and pharmacies are permitted to carry it in Missouri now because Bill 501 allowed the Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services to issue an order allowing pharmacies to dispense Narcan to anyone.
Lynch said he believes in certain situations, insurance companies will even cover the cost of the purchase of the drug.
"I believe it's going to save lives," Lynch said. "Many of the people that will buy won't necessarily be those struggling with addiction, it will be their loves ones who buy it just in case."
Both laws represented a lot of work on Lynch's part, but he said he couldn't be more pleased with the results. He also said that a lot of bipartisan support helped get both issues into law.
"The bottom line is that too many people are dying. This is a big step towards saving lives," Lynch said.
Bill 501 also addressed issues concerning epinephrine auto-injectors, licensing for various health fields, allowing the Missouri Board of Pharmacy to allocate funds to develop a drug take-back program, and allows medication assisted treatment for participants in drug courts, family courts, and veterans courts.
The medication assisted treatment change means that participants in those courts will not be in violation of the terms of those courts if they are receiving medication assisted treatment, under the care of licensed doctor, for substance abuse.
Bill 501 became effective on August 28.