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Heroin overdose antidote: Who gets to carry it?

February 26, 2014
by Katie Zezima
Associated Press

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) -- As deaths from heroin and powerful painkillers skyrocket nationwide, governments and clinics are working to put a drug that can reverse an opiate overdose into the hands of more paramedics, police officers and the people advocates say are the most critical group - people who abuse drugs, and their friends and families.

Supporters say the opportunity to save potentially thousands of lives outweighs any fears by critics that the promise of a nearby antidote would only encourage drug abuse.

At least 17 states and the District of Columbia allow naloxone - commonly known by the brand name Narcan - to be distributed to the public, said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, a national nonprofit that focuses on preventive health care. And at least 10 of those states allow for third parties, such as a family member or friend of an intravenous drug user, to be prescribed it.

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