Pharmacies in Monroe County would be required to inform prescription opioid patients that the opioid overdose antidote drug naloxone is available to them, under a measure adopted Tuesday by the county Legislature.
Naloxone, which is commonly sold under the brand name Narcan, is already available to prescription opioid patients at a heavily discounted rate through the state Naloxone Co-payment Assistance Program, which covers up to $40 of the cost of a co-payment, making the drug free for most insured people.
But it is unclear how many patients are aware of the program.
“At the end of the day, it’s about ensuring that folks who are being prescribed opioids have knowledge that they can receive a life-saving drug in the event that someone overdoses,” said Legislator Justin Wilcox, a Brighton Democrat who introduced the legislation.
The measure was co-sponsored by Republican Legislator Jackie Smith, of Clarkson.
County Executive Adam Bello is expected to sign the legislation into law.
The legislation will be known as “Maisie’s Law” in remembrance of Maisie Gillan, a 9-month-old infant from Brighton who died in January 2019 after ingesting a stray methadone pill at the home of her next-door neighbor.
The pill belonged to an elderly relative of the homeowner’s who had stayed overnight at the house days before Maisie visited with her family. The relative had a prescription for methadone, an opioid, for restless leg syndrome, and police who investigated Maisie’s death determined that the relative had unwittingly dropped a pill on the floor and that Maisie had chanced upon it with fatal consequences.
Maisie’s father, Adam Gillan, cast the bill as a progressive step forward in normalizing the conversation around naloxone.
“This is not declaring victory,” Gillan said. “This is just another step forward. And for us, with Maisie dying from the mishandling of an opioid, we’re hopeful that this continued conversation, whether it be in people’s homes with their family members or their medical professionals and pharmacists, can continue to evolve.”
Eighty-eight percent of opioid overdose victims who were administered naloxone by first responders between 2014 and 2017 survived, according to a state Department of Health report.
The legislation was modified from its original version, which would have required pharmacies to provide a naloxone dose upon filling a customer’s first prescription for opioids.
Legislators said the mandate was impractical for pharmacies and could lead to unused naloxone doses circulating in public.
David Andreatta is CITY's editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.