Senator Antonio's S.B. 59 Amended Into H.B. 341
Ohioans have made substantial contributions to mitigating the effects of the Opioid crisis throughout the state. From state initiatives to community support, we have been able to save many lives. In fact, since its inception, 15,000 people have sought help from the RecoveryOhio Crisis Text Line. Despite these significant efforts, there was a disconnect in the education surrounding the life-saving antidote, naloxone.
In Ohio, a 2015 law allowed pharmacists to dispense this medication to customers without a prescription, the only problem was, many pharmacists were unaware of this change. According to a survey completed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer of 275 Northeast Ohio pharmacies, a large number of pharmacies did not know that naloxone can be dispensed without a prescription.  In fact, 20 percent of the pharmacies surveyed incorrectly stated that customers would need a prescription for naloxone. Consequently, many pharmacies did not even have naloxone in stock.
That is why I introduced Senate Bill 59, the Naloxone without Prescription Training Bill, to require all pharmacists, technicians and pharmacy interns be trained to become knowledgeable that naloxone can be dispensed without a prescription and would also require those professionals that dispense the drug to maintain an adequate supply of it. This legislation passed unanimously out of the Senate earlier this year. It then moved over to the House where it passed out of the House Health Committee unanimously.
I am proud to announce that in September, during National Recovery Month, Governor DeWine signed House Bill 341 into law, which contained S.B. 59 as an amendment. With this law in effect, we will be able to save more lives and work towards overcoming the opioid epidemic in Ohio. The passage of this legislation is even more significant given the increased loss of life due to opioid usage this year. In August alone, Cuyahoga County witnessed at least 47 fatal cases due to heroin/fentanyl/analogs, and at least 293 victims over the course of this year. We must continue to raise awareness and pass meaningful legislation to better help our families, friends, and neighbors who are silently battling addiction.
State Senator Nickie J. Antonio is honored to be serving in her first elected term in the Ohio Senate District 23, following 8 years of service in the Ohio House of Representatives, 13th House District with 5 of those years serving in leadership as Minority Whip. Antonio has also served as Lakewood City Councilmember, Executive Director of an outpatient drug/alcohol treatment program for women and teacher for children with special needs. Antonio serves as Highest Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Transportation and Joint Medicaid Oversight Committees. She also serves on the Finance Subcommittee on Health, and Ways and Means Committees. She is also a member of the Ohio House Democratic Women's Caucus—previously serving as chair—and is the State Director for the Women Legislators’ Lobby. She has been a dedicated champion of workers’ rights, high-quality education, our local governments, equal rights for women and the LGBT community, healthcare for all and fighting the opioid crisis. Antonio is recognized as a leader who reaches across the aisle to get things done. As a result, she has worked to pass legislation such as Ohio’s historic adoption open records law (SB 23/HB 61) and a step therapy reform law (SB 265/HB 72). During each of her four terms in office, Antonio has introduced the Ohio Fairness Act (now SB11), to provide civil rights protections for members of the LGBT community, as well as an end to Ohio’s use of the death penalty and an array of other bills focused on improving the lives of all Ohioans. Antonio continues to be an established expert in health policy in the General Assembly. The first in her family to graduate from college, she holds both MPA and B.S.Ed. Degrees from Cleveland State University and was named a CSU Distinguished Alumni in 2013. She is also an alumnus and Bohnett fellow of the Kennedy School Harvard Leadership Program (2011). Daughters Ariel and Stacey have made Antonio and wife Jean Kosmac, very proud as the girls engage in their adult life journeys.