Governor signs bills aimed at stemming opioid epidemic

Gov. Terry McAuliffe signs a bill Feb. 23, 2017, that is aimed at stemming Virginia’s growing opioid epidemic. Image Credit: Office of Gov. Terry McAuliffe

RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WAVY) — Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed a set of bills that aim to stem Virginia’s growing opioid epidemic.

McAuliffe’s office said in a statement Thursday that among the measures he signed into law is one allowing community organizations to possess and dispense naloxone, an overdose-reversal drug.

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Another measure mandates that all opioid prescriptions be transmitted to pharmacies electronically by 2020.

The statement says that while final numbers aren’t yet available, the Virginia Department of Health projects that more than 1,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016. If those projections hold, it would mark a 33 percent increase in the number of overdoses compared with 2015.

McAuliffe’s office released two videos Thursday of the governor and Attorney General Mark Herring delivering remarks following the bill’s signing.

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The state health commissioner declared the issue a public health crisis in November.

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