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Burgum signs order to make opioid overdose medication 'readily accessible'

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and his wife, Kathryn Helgaas Burgum, share a laugh on stage during his inaugural celebration Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2016, at the Bismarck Event Center. Photo by John Hageman

BISMARCK—Cabinet-level state agencies were directed to work with local and tribal governments, along with law enforcement, to make medication reversing opioid overdoses readily available to first responders, community leaders, opioid users and their families under an executive order signed by Gov. Doug Burgum Tuesday, Sept. 26.

The order said the United States is experiencing an "epidemic" of opioid addiction, noting that overdose deaths have more than tripled in North Dakota between 2013 and 2015. It said lawmakers have passed legislation making naloxone available from licensed pharmacists, but it's "vital" that it be available to first responders and those witnessing an overdose, along with training.

The executive order was announced on the day of a Bismarck conference dubbed Recovery Reinvented, hosted by the governor and first lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum. Attendees were trained in naloxone administration, and two single-dose kits were available for free to participants.

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