Model law supports Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing efforts to expand evidence-based harm reduction services to address overdoses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced the release of a model law for states to help expand access to naloxone, which saves lives by reversing opioid overdoses. The release of this model law comes at a critical time when overdose deaths have reached a record high, and gives states a tool to help prevent overdoses. 

“No one should die from an overdose, and naloxone is one of the most effective tools we have to save lives. But sadly, today, people with substance use disorders are overdosing and dying across the country because naloxone access depends a great deal on where you live,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “This model law provides states with a framework to make naloxone accessible to those who need it– an evidence-based solution that, according to research, would have a significant effect on reducing opioid-related overdose deaths.”

This model law provides a template of suggested legislative provisions that can be enacted in states across country so that they can offer access to life-saving naloxone. Specifically, the model law would:

  • Provide states a roadmap to expand access to, and the availability of, emergency opioid antagonists such as naloxone;
  • Address the critical need to provide uniformity in the ability of citizens in states to access opioid antagonists such as naloxone;
  • Encourage citizens to obtain emergency opioid antagonists such as naloxone;
  • Protect individuals administering opioid antagonists such as naloxone from unjust prosecution;
  • Require health insurance coverage of opioid antagonists like naloxone and prohibit discriminatory life and health insurance practices related to the possession of naloxone;
  • Provide increased access to opioid antagonists in educational institutions and correctional settings;
  • Establish a pilot program for bystander access; and
  • Promote initiatives that educate citizens on the life-saving potential of emergency opioid antagonists.

The research and drafting of the Model Expanded Access to Emergency Opioid Antagonists Act was funded through ONDCP’s Model Acts Program and authored by its cooperative agreement award recipient, the Legislative Analysis and Public Policy Association (LAPPA). Previously through this initiative, states have introduced the Model Overdose Fatality Reviews Act, a LAPPA model law that would establish county-level multidisciplinary overdose fatality review that can be used to identify and respond to overdose deaths; and the Model Overdose Mapping (ODMAP) and Response Act, a LAPPA model law that would establish a system to track overdose incident reporting and improve public health and public safety responses.

BACKGROUND ON THE BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION’S ACTIONS ON ADDICTION AND THE OVERDOSE EPIDEMIC

In its first-year drug policy priorities, the Biden-Harris Administration outlined a strategy that includes expanding access to evidence-based prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, as well reducing the supply of illicit drugs. Since January, the Office of National Drug Control Policy has worked with other agencies across the government to advance President Biden’s drug policy priorities. Among the actions taken in the first ten months of the Biden-Harris Administration are:

  • The American Rescue Plan invested nearly $4 billion to allow the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to vital mental health and substance use disorder services. The funding also included $30 million in supports for harm reduction services—a historic amount that will enhance interventions like syringe services programs.
  • HHS announcement of the new HHS Overdose Prevention Strategy, which focuses on expanding primary prevention, harm reduction, evidence-based treatment, and recovery support services for all Americans. The HHS Overdose Prevention Strategy builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s year one drug policy priorities and actions taken by the Administration to address addiction and the overdose epidemic since January. 
  • HHS released the Practice Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder, which exempt eligible health care providers from federal certification requirements related to training, counseling and other ancillary services that are part of the process for obtaining a waiver to treat up to 30 patients with buprenorphine. This action expands access to evidence-based treatment by removing a critical barrier to buprenorphine prescribing.
  • DEA lifted a decade-long moratorium on opioid treatment programs that want to include a mobile component. This rule change will help provide treatment to rural and other underserved communities, including incarcerated individuals.
  • CDC and SAMHSA announced that federal funding may now be used to purchase fentanyl test strips in an effort to help curb the dramatic spike in drug overdose deaths.
  • CDC launched four complementary education campaigns that provide information about the prevalence and dangers of fentanyl, the risks and consequences of mixing drugs, the life-saving power of naloxone, and the importance of reducing stigma around drug use to support treatment and recovery.
  • National Institutes of Health is supporting research to accelerate scientific solutions to the overdose crisis, including research on prevention of substance use and use disorders; novel treatment strategies for addiction and overdose reversal; interventions to reduce drug harms and infection transmission; models of recovery support; and implementation of evidence-based practices in healthcare, community and justice settings.
  • ONDCP designated six new counties as part of its High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program. These counties, located in states like California, Illinois, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, will receive support for regional law enforcement efforts to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations.
  • ONDCP provided funding for the nationwide expansion of the HIDTA Overdose Response Strategy to all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. The Strategy brings together drug intelligence officers and public health analysts at the local and regional level to share information and develop evidence-based intervention and support services that reduce overdoses.
  • ONDCP provided funding to support the establishment of state-level model legislation that advances efforts to expand access to harm reduction services, as well as promote equity in access to treatment and drug enforcement efforts for underserved communities.
  • ONDCP hosted more than 300 State, local, and Tribal leaders from all 50 States, Washington, D.C., American Samoa, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands for a virtual convening entitled “Opioid Litigation Settlement: Using Evidence to Lead Action.” At the convening, government officials, researchers, and experts discussed how State, local, and Tribal governments can use evidence and data to guide decisions about how funds from opioid litigation can be spent to address addiction and the overdose epidemic, while advancing equity.
  • ONDCP, HHS, and DOJ presented to Congress the Biden-Harris Administration’s recommendations for a long-term, consensus approach to reduce the supply and availability of illicitly manufactured fentanyl-related substances (FRS), while safeguarding against racial disparities in prosecution and sentencing and reducing barriers to scientific research for all Schedule I substances.
  • ONDCP announced $13.2 million in grants for 106 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Programs (managed by CDC) across the country working to prevent youth substance use, including prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol. In June, ONDCP announced $3.2 million for 65 communities nationwide for its Community-Based Coalition Enhancement Grants to Address Local Drug Crisis Program to reduce youth substance use.
  • ONDCP announced the release of a model law for state legislatures that would help ensure opioid litigation settlement funds are directed to addressing addiction and the overdose epidemic in impacted communities and with public accountability.
  • DEA issued a national public safety alert, launched a “One Pill Can Kill” public awareness campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl, and coordinated a major enforcement operation to rid American communities of significant quantities of counterfeit pills laced with deadly fentanyl.
  • ONDCP released a new, holistic U.S.-Colombia counternarcotics strategy developed by the Counternarcotics Working Group between the United States and Colombian governments that broadens focus to include specific actions on rural security and development, environmental protection, and supply reduction.

In addition to these actions, the President’s FY22 budget request calls for a $41.0 billion investment for national drug program agencies, a $669.9 million increase over the FY 2021 enacted level. The largest increases in funding are for critical public health interventions to expand research, prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, with targeted investments to meet the needs of populations at greatest risk for overdose and substance use disorder. The FY22 budget request also includes significant investments in reducing the supply of illicit substances.

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