St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - Minnesota health officials are trying to spread the word about a new state law aimed at helping to address the state’s growing drug overdose problem. The law, which went into effect January 1st, allows Minnesotans to purchase nalaxone without a prescription. The medication, better known by its brand name Narcan, can save the life of a person overdosing on an opioid drug.

”We are encouraging people who are concerned about their opiate use or that of someone close to them to keep naloxone on hand in case of an emergency,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “This expanded pharmacy access gives people one more option for getting this potentially life-saving drug.”

Experts say administering Narcan and rescue breaths to a person experiencing an opiate overdose can safely and immediately reverse the often fatal condition. Statistics show Minnesota and other states have been seeing steadily rising numbers of drug related deaths in recent years, and in 2015 over half of those deaths involved prescription medications rather than illegal street drugs.

Narcan is available as an injection or nasal spray. Officials say multiple doses may be required and access to is particularly important for people who use high doses of pain pills and other prescription opioids, along with illegal narcotics such as heroin.

More information is available at the department’s naloxone webpage.

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