New Mexico OKs Laws to Curb High Drug Overdose Death Rate

by | March 8, 2016

By Deborah Baker

Bills to make overdose reversal drugs more widely available and to curb overprescription of opioid drugs were signed into law Friday by Gov. Susana Martinez.

She also signed legislation requiring student athletes to sit out longer after concussions.

The governor has until Wednesday to sign or veto bills that were passed during the recent 30-day legislative session.

New Mexico has one of the highest drug overdose death rates in the nation, and Martinez said in a statement that the new laws provide "more tools and lifesaving medicine to fight the epidemic of prescription drug abuse and overdose in our communities."

One measure expands access to naloxone -- a fast-acting opioid antagonist that reverses overdoses -- by making it readily available to opioid users as well as to their families, friends, community groups and programs.

They could legally keep the drug on hand and wouldn't face civil liability or criminal prosecution for administering it under House Bill 277 and Senate Bill 262, identical bills passed by the Legislature.

Martinez also signed Senate Bill 263, which requires doctors and other pain medication prescribers to check the state's prescription monitoring program, or PMP, to see whether patients are getting opioids elsewhere. The check would be made the first time they prescribe, then every three months.

Some prescribers already use the PMP system, but the new law makes it a requirement and sets minimum standards for its use.

The concussion bill, Senate Bill 137, requires student athletes who have suffered concussions to stay off the field or court for 10 days, up from the current seven. The intent is to give them more protection from repeated traumatic brain injuries.

The legislation also expands the concussion protocol to youth athletic groups that use public school district grounds.

It also requires improved brain injury education and training for coaches.

Also signed Friday were bills that:

Require the Children, Youth and Families Department to give preference to placing children who are in state custody with family members when it's in the children's best interest. (HB28)

Add lead-acid batteries to the list of scrap metal that has to be tracked under the Sale of Recycled Metals Act, which requires secondhand metal dealers to keep detailed records of purchases. (SB76)

Expand what local governments may invest funds in, to include federally insured obligations. (SB56)

Authorize the New Mexico Finance Authority to make loans or grants for 42 listed projects from the water project fund. (HB167, SB106)

(c)2016 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)