Senator Merritt Proposes New Bills to Tackle Drug Epidemic

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Indiana Public Media on 01/12/2016 by Jill Sheridan

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Photo: Gretchen Frazee

The state voted last year to expand Indiana’s Lifeline Law to include drug overdoses.

Six more bills to address drug addiction in Indiana were added to the legislative agenda on Monday.

State Sen. Jim Merritt (R- Fall Creek) pointed to the state’s drug epidemic as he announced his proposals.

“We all know we have a scourge, we have an epidemic, we have a monster of a problem with heroin and prescription pills,” Merritt said.

In 2013 over 150 people in Indiana died from heroin overdoses, twice as many from 2011 according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

Last year Indiana lawmakers passed a bill increasing access to Narcan, a drug that’s already saved 14 lives in Marion County this year.  One of Merritt’s proposals this session would make the medicine available to anyone, over the counter.

“If someone might be on a cul-de-sac and knows someone a couple houses down is addicted and might be able to serve as a savior of that life, they’ll be able to go to the pharmacy and get a syringe or as many doses of Narcan as possible,” Merritt said.

One of the State Senator’s proposals calls for a wider investigation of the state’s drug abuse problem.

“It’s the year of data,” Merritt said. “We need to know how many uses in every county where lives are saved, we need to know how many overdose deaths we have–hopefully none–but we’re anticipating that there will be, we need to know where the problems are.”

Merritt’s proposals include a bill to expand Indiana’s Lifeline Law and a measure protecting pregnant women seeking drug treatment. and another that would study specific needs for Indiana communities fighting drug abuse.