State Rep. Tom O\u2019Dea (R-125) has joined with Rep. Gerald Fox III (D-146) in championing Raised House Bill No. 5487, which would provide legal immunity to anyone who administers a\u00a0drug called an \u201copioid antagonist\u201d to a person experiencing an overdose. When administered quickly and correctly, the drug naloxone rapidly restores a victim\u2019s breathing and reverses the effects of an overdose of heroin or other opioids, such as prescription painkillers. Under current statute, only licensed health care professionals can administer the overdose countermeasure without fear of facing civil or criminal prosecution. Mr. O\u2019Dea, who introduced the measure through the state House\u2019s Judiciary Committee, believes legislation is necessary to protect from lawsuits or prosecution any and all first responders who administer naloxone. According to the state\u2019s Chief Medical Examiner, deaths from heroin abuse alone rose by nearly 50% to 257 in 2013, from 174 such deaths in 2012. \u201cA lot of these cases of heroin abuse and deaths start with abuse of painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin \u2014 when people run out of ways to get the prescription meds, too often they turn to heroin,\u201d Mr. O\u2019Dea said during a public hearing on the bill last week. \u201cThe rising number of deaths from these drugs in Connecticut is extremely alarming, and allowing non-physicians to carry and administer naloxone is an easy way to avoid unnecessary tragedies like the ones we\u2019ve been seeing all too often.\u201d Seventeen states and Washington D.C. have increased access to naloxone by amending their states\u2019 laws. Mr. O\u2019Dea, who represents Wilton and New Canaan, expects the bill to be passed in the coming weeks with wide bipartisan support.