Under the Texas Health and Safety Code, law enforcement agencies in Texas are authorized to receive prescriptions of an opioid antagonist – commonly the drug naloxone – that officers can use to treat opioid overdoses and protect themselves, Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a written opinion released today.

In 2015, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1462, which permits the prescription and dispensing of an opioid antagonist to persons at risk of experiencing an overdose, along with any person in a position to assist in an overdose emergency. The Texas Medical Board asked Attorney General Paxton to deterimine if law enforcement agencies qualify for the prescriptions.

“With regard to distributing an opioid antagonist, the statute provides that a ‘person or organization acting under a standing order . . . may distribute an opioid antagonist.’ Thus, the Legislature made clear its intent that the law authorizes both individuals and law enforcement agencies to obtain opioid antagonists by prescription,” Attorney General Paxton concluded.

More than 1,200 law enforcement agencies nationwide carry naloxone, which can save the life of someone who has overdosed on painkillers, heroin or other opioid drugs as well as cure an officer’s overexposure when responding to a call. The medical effect of the opioid antagonist, which is usually administered as a nasal spray or autoinjector, has been likened to resurrecting someone from the dead.  

“Experiences of law enforcement agencies outside Texas leave no question about the ability of law enforcement agencies to assist a person experiencing an opioid overdose,” Attorney General Paxton wrote.

Across the country, opioids killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, including 1,174 Texans. Last month, Attorney General Paxton joined a bipartisan coalition of a 41 state attorneys general in serving investigative subpoenas and additional requests on eight companies that manufacture or distribute highly-addictive prescription opioids.