A bill aimed at saving the lives of overdose victims could be in jeopardy after it was amended in a Senate committee to lessen the restrictions on mail-order pharmacies.
Robin Elliott, who lost her son Zack to an overdose three years ago, had expected the bill to sail through the Senate Health and Human Services Committee after it easily passed the House.
“I’m a little worried, but I’m hoping in the end that the sentiment and the reality of what this bill is really about will prevail,” she tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.
As originally proposed, the measure by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) would protect anyone from prosecution who seeks help for an overdose victim as long as they did not provide, sell, or administer the drugs.
The bill was also combined with a separate measure to make the antidote Naloxone more readily available to emergency personnel and families of addicts. The drug is known to reverse the effects of an overdose.
Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), who chairs the committee, says the change regarding the mail-order pharmacies was needed to fix a problem that developed after the law was passed in 2010 allowing such companies to operate in Georgia.
She says the Pharmacy Board is attempting to regulate those companies the same as “brick and mortar” pharmacies.
But Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler), a pharmacist who sits on the committee and opposed the change, says patients are put at risk when those companies do not have to meet the same standards as regular pharmacies.
“If you come into my pharmacy… you have to sign for a prescription; right now they just leave the package on the doorstep and don’t have anybody sign for it.”
The amendment passed the committee by just one vote, setting up a potential fight on the floor of the Senate that could carry over to the House when the bill goes back over there.
Unterman does not think the changes made to the bill will prevent it from passing.
“If it did, I wouldn’t have allowed it to be put on,” she says.