Addiction Policy News

VASAM Weighs in on State Harm Reduction Bills

January 20, 2020


On January 20, the Virginia Society of Addiction Medicine (VASAM), submitted letters of support for HB532, which would expand Good Samaritan protections for individuals seeking medical care following an alcohol- or drug-related overdose, and HB791, which would extend the authority of the Commissioner of Health to establish comprehensive harm reduction programs.


In its letter of support for HB532, VASAM stressed the positive impact of Good Samaritan protections, noting that a recent study found that adoption of such protections was associated with an 11% reduction in opioid overdose deaths. Furthermore, the same study observed that adoption of Good Samaritan laws was not associated with an increase in misuse of prescription opioids. 


While urging passage of HB791, VASAM acknowledged the significant impact infectious diseases such as Hepatitis C (HCV) have had on the public health, and specifically the health of those struggling with addiction. Approximately 80% of people who inject illicit drugs are HCV-infected, and without significant efforts to increase screening, diagnosis, and treatment, HCV-related deaths will peak in 2030 to 2035, with approximately 36,000 deaths per year. VASAM's letter concluded by stating that HB791 enacts changes that would combat the spread of HCV and other infectious diseases, improving the public health and saving lives.


Read HB532 here.


Read the letter of support for HB532 here.


Read HB791 here.


Read the letter of support for HB791 here.


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