In 2014, overdose deaths numbered 47,055, approximately one and a half times as many deaths as from motor vehicle crashes, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in December 2015. For the nation, the 2014 death rate from drug overdoses is significantly higher than the rate in 2013 and since 2000 has more than doubled.

Biological products are a growing class of medicines available to treat disease. Biological products differ from traditional drugs in a few key ways. Biologics are manufactured in living cells, while drugs are manufactured through a chemical process. Biosimilars, interchangeable biologicals and follow-on biologics are the names given to the “generic” versions of brand-name biologics. Even after an interchangeable biological is approved by the FDA, it must meet additional requirements to be considered “interchangeable.” The FDA must determine that the biosimilar can be expected to produce the same clinical result as the brand-name product in any patient and that it has similar safety risks as the brand-name product. At the point that the FDA deems a biosimilar interchangeable, state law will govern how substitutions will be allowed.

The Act establishes findings concerning barriers that terminally ill patients may face in access to potentially life-preserving treatments.

Naloxone is a very effective and safe substance to reduce the effects of opioid drug overdose and prevent deaths. Overdose deaths more than doubled between 1999 and 2010. In 2010, deaths from both prescription drug and illicit drug overdoses surpassed traffic accidents as the number one cause of death for persons less than 65 years old. States essentially use two policy options to increase access to naloxone. A small minority of states allow naloxone sales by a pharmacy without a prescription. A majority of states allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone under a standing order from a licensed medical professional.

The Act requires health care facilities that perform mammography examinations to communicate mammographic breast density information to patients.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Today, most people become infected with the hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants. Three states have passed legislation requiring that hospitals offer hepatitis C screening tests for baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1965), while another recommends that hospitals offer the screening.

The Act expands the law governing insect sting emergency treatment to create the “Emergency Allergy Treatment Act,” which makes epinephrine auto-injectors (EAIs) available for the treatment of any severe allergic reaction and in more public places. The Act permits certain authorized entities, such as restaurants and youth sports leagues, to obtain a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector. Authorized entities may stock and store EAIs, and their employees who have completed certain training and are certified may provide an EAI to a person suffering a severe allergic reaction for self-administration, administer an EAI to a person suffering a severe allergic reaction, or provide an EAI to a person to administer it to another person suffering a severe allergic reaction. The Act extends the civil liability immunity protections of the Good Samaritan Act to any person who possesses, administers, or stores EAIs in compliance with Emergency Allergy Treatment Act.

In 2014, roughly 47 million Americans lived in “dental health professional shortage areas,” a geographic area or a population group where there are 5,000 or more individuals per dentist so designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In six states, at least 20 percent of the population lives in shortage areas with little or no access to dentists. Dental care is the greatest unmet health need among children in the United States, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Every year, tens of millions of children, many of them from low-income families, go without seeing a dentist. The dental workforce traditionally has been limited to dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants, all of whom are licensed at the state level. However, Minnesota and Maine have authorized mid-level dental practitioners to expand the reach of the dental workforce.

The Act (Sections 1, 9) allows the practice of collaborative drug therapy management by a pharmacist. A pharmacist is allowed to perform patient care functions for a specific patient delegated to the pharmacist by a physician through a collaborative practice agreement. The physician remains responsible for the care of the patient throughout the collaborative drug therapy management process. A pharmacist may not alter a physician’s orders or directions, diagnose or treat any disease, independently prescribe drugs, or independently practice medicine. The Act also establishes a seven-member collaborative drug therapy management advisory committee.

The Act requires hospitals to give each patient or patient’s legal guardian an opportunity to designate a caregiver who will provide after-care assistance to the patient following discharge from the hospital. The Act also requires the hospital to record the name and contact information of the caregiver in the patient’s medical record and to notify the caregiver upon the patient’s discharge or transfer to another facility.

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