In keeping with Senate Bill 15-053, Dr. Larry Wolk, chief medical officer and executive director at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, will expand the availability of naloxone, which is used to counter the effects of opioid overdoses. Opioids include prescription painkillers and illegal drugs such as heroin.
Colorado’s new law allows the state’s chief medical officer to issue standing orders for naloxone prescriptions that can be filled by pharmacists and used by:
The law protects these individuals from civil or criminal liability if they provide naloxone in good faith to an individual experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose.
“This legislation will save lives,” said Wolk. “While our first aim is prevent the abuse of both illegal and prescription opioids, we now can make a lifesaving antidote more readily available to people who can help someone at risk.”
Lisa Raville, executive director of Colorado’s Harm Reduction Action Center, said, “We are so thankful to the Legislature for unanimously passing this law to expand access to naloxone across the state. And a special thank you to Dr. Wolk for allowing pharmacists and harm reduction organizations — that don’t have a medical provider — to work under his license as they are often better placed than doctors to reach those in need of naloxone such as opiate users, mothers and law enforcement members.”
From 2011 to 2013, an average of 7,600 Coloradans visited emergency departments each year because of drug overdoses. Annual deaths from painkillers such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and fentaynl more than tripled from 2000 to 2013 in Colorado.
At a news conference in February, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced a new statewide education campaign, Take Meds Seriously, to raise awareness about the problem of prescription drug abuse in Colorado. The campaign focuses on safe use, storage and disposal of prescription pain medications.
CDC, with various state and local health departments, is alerting parents about an illness involving the brain and spinal cord identified in 10 children in Colorado. The children were hospitalized with muscle weakness or paralysis mostly in their arms or legs. Parents and children should always follow basic steps to stay healthy and avoid infections: wash hands frequently with soap and water, stay away from sick people, and disinfect objects that a sick person has touched.
Many parents are concerned to hear about these sick children in Colorado. This seems to be a rare sickness. Some of the children also have had cold-like symptoms. We don’t know yet what caused this illness or whether it spreads from one person to another. If a parent sees a child isn’t walking correctly or develops sudden weakness in an arm or leg, the parent should contact a doctor right away.
Who has been affected by this sickness?
Between August 9 and September 29, 2014, 10 children from 1 to 18 years of age in Colorado were hospitalized with this sickness. While we don’t yet know what caused this sickness, we do know the following things about the 10 children who’ve been hospitalized.
What can I do to protect my child?
Being up to date on all recommended vaccinations is the best way to protect you and your family from serious diseases including polio and acute respiratory illnesses including influenza, measles and whooping cough.
Although it is still unknown what’s causing this sickness and whether it can be spread from person to person, it is best for everyone in your house to follow basic steps to stay healthy and avoid infections: wash your hands frequently with soap and water, stay away from sick people, and disinfect objects that a sick person has touched.
Washing your hands the right way is one of the best things you and your children can do to protect against getting sick. Wash your hands
If your child is having problems walking or standing or develops sudden weakness in an arm or leg, you should contact a doctor right away.
What are CDC, health departments, doctors and nurses doing to find out why children are getting sick?
CDC is working closely with partners in Colorado and elsewhere to find out why the children hospitalized are sick.
Doctors and nurses who see patients in their offices, clinics or hospitals with unexplained muscle weakness or paralysis in the arms or legs are testing them to see if they might have this sickness. They also are reporting information to their state or local health department.
Want more details? Read CDC’s guidance for health departments, doctors and nurses.
Responding to a recent surge in cases of whooping cough (pertussis), the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment today urged Coloradans to ensure they’re up to date on vaccinations. One hundred new cases of pertussis were reported in the second half of October.