CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A bill passed Friday by the Senate could help save the lives of patients suffering drug overdoses.
Senate Bill 336 allows law enforcement, emergency medical services, firefighters and other first responders to carry and administer Naloxone, an opioid antagonist. The drug, Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, explained, helps reverse the effects of opioids.
Stollings said Naloxone is administered in hospitals intravenously, but the bill would allow first responders to give the drug orally.
"As we know, we lead the country in opioid overdoses per capita due to our substance abuse issues," Stollings said. "The sooner you can get the antagonist to the person who needs it, the better."
Sen. Evan Jenkins, R-Cabell, spoke to the bill, saying it could have helped a nephew who died of a drug overdose.
"Tragically here a couple of months ago, my wife lost her nephew -- a young man with an outstanding personality, had the world in the palm of his hands, but like so many he had the disease of addiction," Jenkins said. "He fought that disease for a number of years."
Jenkins said that like others, his nephew had sought treatment, spending time in an inpatient facility. But, Jenkins noted, addicts often have a high level of resistance to certain drugs and think they can use at that same level even after treatment. That's what led to his nephew's overdose. Jenkins said he's positive an opioid antagonist could have saved his life.
"I'm glad we're taking this step today," Jenkins said. "I'll be thinking of Adam when passing this bill."
The bill passed unanimously, 32-0.
The Senate passed a second bill Friday that expands the scope of what could be considered financial exploitation of the elderly.
Senate Bill 397 is part of AARP West Virginia's 2014 legislative agenda. The bill says any person who exploits an elderly person, protected person or incapacitated adult is guilty of grand larceny. Under the law "financial exploitation" means the intentional misappropriation or misuse of funds or assets of an elderly person to benefit the perpetrator.
The bill holds accountable attorneys, caregivers, guardians, conservators and trustees of elderly or protected people or incapacitated adults, and those positions cannot be used as a defense under this legislation.
The bill passed 32-0 and will now go to the House of Delegates.
Friday was national Go Red for Women Day, which calls attention to heart disease among women.
Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, took to the Senate floor to speak on the issue.
"It is indeed the No. 1 killer in women, but only 13 percent of women view heart disease as a health threat," Stollings said. "There are several points I can make, but the bottom line is we're bringing attention to cardiovascular disease in women."
The American Heart Association released new guidelines Thursday that show six risk factors for stroke are present only in women. They include pregnancy, pregnancy-related high blood pressure, pregnancy-related diabetes, oral contraceptive use, post-menopausal hormone therapy use and changes in hormonal status.
"We've always known women who use oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy are at an increased risk, as well as the more traditional hypertension, tobacco use and high cholesterol," Stollings said.
Stollings, who is a physician, suggested at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week and two days a week of muscular strengthening activity. He also said drinking two soft drinks per day could increase the risk of heart attack by 30 percent.