COLUMBIA, S.C. — A Grand Strand lawmaker is trying to prevent opioid overdoses by giving people more access to a life-saving drug.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) says about 73% of the 1,103 drug overdose deaths in South Carolina in 2018 were caused by opioids.

“It’s tough,” said Rep. Russell Fry, R-Surfside Beach. “I think nationwide, you’re seeing numbers go up.”

Rep. Fry wrote a bill requiring doctors to prescribe naloxone, which includes Narcan, to patients under certain circumstances if they’re also prescribed an opioid.

“We see a lot of accidental overdoses where people just don’t realize the dosage or they take too much over a 24-hour period,” he said.

It would include anyone with a history of substance abuse or anyone who has overdosed before.

The co-prescription would also go towards anyone prescribed an opioid and a benzodiazapine, also called a “benzo.”

“The combination of those drugs is pretty dangerous in certain circumstances,” Rep. Fry said.

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Rep. Fry also says the goal is to stop the rise in overdose deaths by getting people the help they need as quickly as possible.

“There are some people who have a serious substance abuse disorder, but then there are some that accidental overdoses happen,” he said. “If you have a co-prescription, it’s in your medicine cabinet and you’re ready for it.”

Rep. Fry’s bill was introduced last week and is now in a House committee.