HHS and GSA Release New Guidance to Increase Naloxone Access in Federal Facilities

Footnotes for this article are available at the end of this page.

On December 21, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) and the U.S. General Services Administration (“GSA”) announced the release of updated guidelines for safety stations in federal facilities.1 This is the first update to these guidelines in the past 15 years. This expands the existing recommendation beyond automated external defibrillators (“AED”) to also include opioid reversal agents, such as naloxone and hemorrhagic control.

This Federal Management Regulation bulletin titled “Guidelines for Safety Station Programs in Federal Facilities” was published in response materials that accompanied the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023.2 House of Representatives Report 117–393 required that GSA, in coordination with HHS as the lead agency with health policy expertise, look at whether AEDs should be required in federally owned buildings under the custody and control of GSA. Federal Management Regulation bulletins clarify provisions and the requirements outlined in regulations and also serve as timely updates to regulations. In this instance, this bulletin cancels and replaces the 2009 document and expands the safety procedures in federal facilities in light of the ongoing opioid crisis and advances in technology.

These revised recommendations introduced the “safety station program,” which provides a general framework and basic elements of designing and implementing a safety station program in federal facilities. The safety station program configurations are flexible and can accommodate all types of federal facilities. Currently, participation in the safety station program is voluntary and not mandatory for federal facilities. As a result, the costs and expenses to establish and operate a safety station program are the responsibility of the federal agency or agencies sponsoring the program. Given the policy agenda of the current administration, we anticipate that federal facilities will participate in the expanded safety station program.

The importance of keeping opioid reversal agents easily accessible has been highlighted by the U.S. Surgeon General and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”). This emphasis dates back to April 5, 2018, when Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a public health advisory recommending that more individuals keep naloxone on hand.3 Over the last eight years, there have been extensive legislative efforts to reduce the impact of the opioid crisis. This includes the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act, and the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act.4 Those laws complement resources that the federal government allocates toward addressing substance use disorder, including resources for opioids that are regularly distributed to the HHS and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the recent $206 million allocated in grants toward improving youth mental health announced in September 2023.5

This policy recommendation seeking to improve workplace safety is another positive step toward reducing the harms of the opioid crisis. For more information about this Bulletin or about any of the recent legislation aimed at combatting the opioid crisis, please contact AGG Healthcare associate Nicole Wemhoff.


[1] Press Release, U.S. Dept. of Health and Hum. Servs, HHS and GSA Update Guidelines for Federal Safety Stations to Improve Health and Safety, Facilitate Overdose Prevention (Dec. 21, 2023), https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2023/12/21/hhs-and-gsa-update-guidelines-for-federal-safety-stations-to-improve-health-and-safety-facilitate-overdose-prevention.html.

[2] FMR Bulletin C–2024–01 Guidelines for Safety Station Programs in Federal Facilities, 88 Fed. Reg. 88619 (Dec. 22, 2023).

[3] General Advisory, U.S. Dept. of Health and Hum. Servs., Off. of the Surgeon Gen, U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on Naloxone and Opioid Overdose (April 5, 2018), https://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/reports-and-publications/addiction-and-substance-misuse/advisory-on-naloxone/index.html.

[4] See generally, Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, Pub. L. No. 114-198 (2016); 21st Century Cures Act, Pub. L. No. 114-255 (2016); Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act, Pub. L. No. 115-271 (2018).

[5] Press Release, U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services, Biden-Harris Administration Announces More Than $200 Million To Support Youth Mental Health (Sept 25, 2023), https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2023/09/25/biden-harris-administration-announces-more-than-200-million-support-youth-mental-health.html